Plastic tape has long been a staple in packaging and shipping for retail and ecommerce as it provides a reliable, secure and safe way to seal parcels and boxes. However, the sheer volume of plastic tape now being produced to meet the increasing demands of online shopping for example, and its impact on the environment has raised concerns among businesses and individuals alike. New iTack offers a new groundbreaking eco-friendly solution to plastic tape that is effective but more importantly also environmentally friendly.

A different approach to plastic tape

The statistics of plastic tape production are not easy to ignore. The leading manufacturer produces over 12 million miles of tape each year, which breaks down to 22 miles every minute. That’s a lot of plastic! This amount of production creates  continued demand for new raw materials and unfortunately contributes the plastic waste crisis. Very little of it gets recycled and most plastic tape ends its lifecycle in landfills exacerbating the plastic pollution problem. This is not a positive situation for today’s retailers who are keen to show their eco-friendly achievements.

At Acopia, we felt the need for an eco-friendly solution to plastic tape to support Retailers in their sustainable ambitions. We set out to develop a product that could drastically reduce environmental impact without compromising on performance.

Plastic Tape Reimagined

iTack is a first-of-its-kind tape that is made entirely from 100% recycled plastic. Using recycled materials, iTack reduces the demand for new raw resources, changing the cycle of plastic production and end of life use. Choosing iTack means contributing to plastic waste reduction efforts and taking a step towards a more sustainable future.

iTack is paving the way for conserving natural resources, embracing a new way we can re-use waste and reducing energy consumption. It will significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with manufacturing new plastic products. It’s a win-win solution that combines functionality with environmental responsibility.

What could iTack Mean for Your Retail Network?

For retailers looking to reduce their environmental impact, iTack offers a real solution. Not only does it provide an eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic tape, but iTack also performs equally well, ensuring packages arrive safely to their destination.

Choosing iTack means you’re making a statement about your commitment to sustainability and responsible packaging practices – and by making such a positive change with this innovation, it’s a good news story that you’ll want to make your customers aware of.

Using recycled tape along with other sustainable packaging choices will no doubt be welcomed by most consumers. To receive an online order parcelled up in entirely 100% recycled materials is a definite game-changer that supports a greener and more sustainable future for everyone.

 Make an informed decision with iTack

In summary, Retailers have several compelling reasons to use iTack from environmental responsibility and playing their part in reducing waste as well as contributing to a more sustainable way of doing business. We can provide iTack with your own branding with the opportunity to include an environmental message too.

It’s these small changes that collectively add up to greater change, keeping sustainability at the top of the agenda. Retailers who continue to add to the pollution problem will suffer at the consumer’s hands who want to see real change from the brands that they buy from.

If you would like to see how iTack performs in your own busy despatch department, you can get in touch for a free sample by calling us on 0845 075 6111.

And if you’d like to get in touch to find out more, just pop an email over to [email protected] for more.

Whether you are a business owner or you are curious about how you can help the environment, a great way to do your part to make the world a greener place is to look into sustainable packaging.


The type of packaging you use can have a real impact on the natural world. Discarded waste from packaging can hurt wildlife or clog up rivers or landscapes. That’s why it’s crucial that you make small changes in order to help the environment. You can start by using sustainable packaging.


What is the effect of unsustainable packaging?


Unfortunately, it is estimated that only around 17% of waste in the UK ends up being recycled. That means the rest either ends up in landfill or in the environment as waste.


Litter can look bad and leave residue or unwanted materials on the ground that can hurt animals and humans alike. For instance, packaging could conceal glass or sharp-edged metal that could cut your hand or cause further injuries. Animals may also swallow unwanted substances that could ultimately kill them.


Packaging that is left out as litter can catch fire, especially if it is cardboard. You’ll also find that packaging litter can create bacteria due to the amount of vermin that is attracted to it.


Packaging that has been left on the ground can also take up space in landfills. There is so little space in landfills that it was estimated that by 2020, there would only be around 50 landfill areas that would be available for use. That’s why it is important that you keep an eye on the type of packaging you use, thereby enabling you to make a real difference to the environment.


The Basics of Sustainable Packaging


Sustainable packaging solutions are crucial to use in order to help the environment. Most of the time, sustainable packaging is made from materials that are completely sustainable. These materials need to be based on four variables:


  • Cost
  • Sustainability, which can consist of reusability, recyclability, and how well it can compost
  • Performance
  • Sortability, which means how well materials can be recovered after they have been recycled


If you intend to create sustainable packaging, you need to make sure you are able to achieve all four of these variables at the same time. It can be difficult to do this, so most companies tend to try and mix and match the types of materials they use. However, with packaging, you can use a variety of sustainable materials to make an impact on the planet.


What materials can create sustainable packaging?


If you run your own business, you will need to think carefully about the types of packaging you are going to use. After all, they are going to have a major impact on your brand and how safely your merchandise is going to be able to travel to your customers. Not only do they need to be recyclable, but they could also potentially be reusable.


Some materials you may want to think about using include:


  • Boxes with paper tape
  • Printed boxes
  • Poly mailers
  • Paper mailers
  • Tissue and butcher paper
  • Compostable bags


If you want to create sustainable packaging that can help the environment, try and stick to simple, separated items that can make it easier to recycle.


Most customers want to help the environment, but they may find it harder to do so if the recycling or reusing process is difficult or inconvenient. That’s why it’s important that you use products that can be easily recycled or reused.


For instance, using a compostable bag means that it can be used for home composting. This keeps it simple for your customers while being completely environmentally friendly.


The benefits of sustainable packaging


The purpose of sustainable packaging from your organisation’s point of view will be to limit your effect on the environment and the amount of pollution you produce when you sell your products.


There is a wide range of benefits that come with using sustainable packaging. These are:


  • Increasing the recyclability of your products
  • Improving your company’s flexibility
  • Lowering your business’s waste
  • Reducing your carbon footprint
  • Strengthening your company’s brand
  • Appealing to your customers


It is important that you do your part to help create a sustainable world in the future. If you focus on creating sustainable packaging, you will find that your customers will enjoy supporting your business more.


Your customers will desire simplicity. So, if you offer boxes, paper, and bags, they will appreciate how easy it is to reuse these materials in the future. Therefore, you will be helping your clients to be greener, alongside your business. This should inspire your clients to continuously return to your company as you will be supporting the environment.


How can I use sustainable eco-friendly packaging?


Making the change to eco-friendly packaging does not have to be drastic. Instead, think carefully about your business and how you can make the packaging suit your brand.


First of all, focus on your brand and how you can incorporate your eco-friendly ideals into your website and overall message. You may want to dedicate a page to your sustainable packaging, or you could use a blog page to explain your overall mission.


With that said, start off by thinking about the packaging you use in general. Lightweight packaging can ensure there is no waste when it comes to your products. It can get frustrating when you order a small or medium product and then it comes in a giant box. That means there will be a lot more waste because there will be a number of wasted materials.


By using heavier packaging, you will also have to spend more money on it. Instead of this, focus on using cardboard. It is one of the best recyclable materials to use over and over again!


What other recycling materials do I need to think about?


Don’t forget that if you want to create reusable and recyclable products, there are many other packaging items you can choose to use. These include labels, adhesives, and closures.


Try and avoid plastics that can create contamination. You may also want to focus on papers, biomaterials, and reusable containers. There’s also compostable packaging you can use to make sure you can give back to the planet. That way, there will be no waste left behind.


Don’t forget about your packaging design!


The design of your sustainable packaging will also play a part in your efforts to be eco-friendly. The better your design is, the less likely it is that the items will get damaged. If your package is damaged, it may get sent back, therefore it will impact the environment.


If you are going to ever use non-recyclable products, try to reuse packaging instead, such as recycled materials. You also need to think about how long the life of the packaging of your product is going to be.


The more thought you put in, the easier it will be for your customers to use it in the future. So, optimise your brand’s packaging design to get the most out of it.


Are you ready to use sustainable packaging?


If you’re thinking about how you can improve your business, or at least make it a little eco-friendlier, the best thing you can do is start by taking small steps.


Using sustainable packaging is a small step in the right direction. Your customers will certainly approve of the changes you make that help you reduce your carbon footprint.


Once you have implemented your new packaging, think carefully about other things that can help you reduce the level of emissions you produce. The eco-friendlier you become, the more effective you can be in playing your part to safeguard our planet.


It’s a subject to stir the emotions…try raising it at the dinner table if the conversation lapses! The challenges of recycling materials and if compostable or biodegradable materials reduce environmental impact. The media is awash with scientists’ predictions about the end game in climate change. There is a general consensus to make what changes we can towards a sustainable future. Western governments have largely got onboard. As a result, legislation and taxation is changing in favour of the environment.

Measures in the UK include the carrier bag tax and provision to recycle more kerbside collections. The Packaging Waste Recovery notes system and mandatory separation of recyclables are imposed on businesses. A new plastic packaging tax is also on the horizon. The elephant in the room is certainly single-use plastics and organisations are looking for ways to replace them. So let’s see if we can understand what’s best and the opportunities for business to make a positive impact.

Recycled, Compostable or Biodegradable?

It is important that we understand the meanings of the different terms. In the context of the afterlife of products –  we can make informed choices for our lives and businesses.

What is recycling?

“Recovery and reprocessing of waste materials for use in new products.”

By making the decision to purchase recycled products, we’re reducing our reliance on finite sources of raw materials. This means  we could reduce volumes sent to landfill. This is the first step in closing the loop of sustainability. If there is insufficient call for recycling, bad things can happen when outside our control. This includes the notorious single use plastics that we traditionally export for reprocessing.

In the UK there’s a lot of room to improve our overall recycling rates. Wales is in the lead at 54.1%, followed by N Ireland. Scotland next and then England at only 44.7%. Still someway to go to meet the 2020 EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of domestic waste. Recycling rates have not varied by more than the odd percentage point since 2013 and overall intake has dropped. So despite the greater interest in the subject, are we putting more effort into the other alternatives? We are, after all, getting through millions (or is it billions?) fewer single use carrier bags.

Recycling of plastic

As we’ve said, the big subject is plastics, so we’ll go there first!

These days, the recycling of plastics is a well-established process. Computerised identification and segregation of most plastics from post-consumer waste (PCW) is carried out on high-speed conveyors. These require minimal human assistance. However, despite great technical advances, the more recent lookalike bioplastic products like PLA (Polylactic Acid) derived from plant sources are not detected by machine.  Once volumes of PLA increase, then better identification and recycling can be made viable.

Moulded plastic items are categorized into 7 numerical types to guide the consumer as to what can be recycled and where. Popular examples include No.1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) fizzy drinks bottles and polyester strapping in packaging. No.4 is the Low Density Polythene (LDPE) found in Bags for Life, freezer food bags etc. It is estimated that some popular plastics can be recycled between 7-9 times although figures vary according to the type of material.

The positive side to plastic

Industrial waste is also segregated by law in the UK, so all-told a lot less ends up in landfill than did even a few years ago.

PET plastic bottles might end up as clothing and auto components. This is referred to as downcycling. PET strapping can be remade time and again. LDPE can be recycled for use as black rubbish sacks, agricultural film or for composite decking! So far, so good. What could possibly go wrong? Well, in a word… lots!  We don’t have enough use for recycled plastic nationally. We don’t have the capacity to process all the plastic waste we produce. The upshot is that huge volumes are exported to countries such as Malaysia, Turkey, Poland, and Indonesia for reprocessing.

Sadly, we have all seen images of rejected plastic waste in the sea, on beaches and in dumps abroad. This all  undermines the claims that Europe recycles increasing amounts of plastic. Blame is said to largely rest with certain UK recyclers being negligent and allowing unsuitable waste to contaminate good plastics.

Recycling of paper


Adding up the recycling numbers

The highest recycling rates have been achieved in the waste sector are for paper and cardboard (79% in 2017).This is slightly ahead of metal and glass. Whereas these latter two are infinitely recyclable, the process for recycling paper is limiting. This is because the wetted paper mass must be chopped to create a pulp. This destroys long fibres making recycled paper weak and prone to tearing. This means a proportion of virgin pulp must be added according to its intended use.

It’s estimated that paper can be recycled up to 7 times. A significant proportion of recycled paper is used for the making of the Test layer in corrugated outer cartons [see  How much do printed cartons cost ] and corrugated paper rolls. Adding recycled paper to make new paper reduces the need for wood, and reduces the energy required by a third. This all helps to free-up space in landfill for items that cannot be recycled.

The difference between Compostable and Biodegradable

Even dictionary definitions vary, and you will find conflicting slants on similar data according to the writer’s viewpoint.

What is compostable?

“Capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms and thereby avoiding pollution.”

“Something that is compostable can be used as compost when it decays:”

These terms are often used interchangeably in spite of there being differences in origin and outcome.  To comply with the European standard EN13432, ‘Compostable’ requires that a bioplastic product should break down by 90% into >2mm pieces within 84 days. This would be in an industrial composting facility by means of heat, moisture, fungi and other living organisms at an average C60 degrees, releasing CO2 and water and leaving biomass.

PLA will only start to decompose after 180 days, so it needs much longer cycles at 60 degrees. Compostable plastic products will contaminate recycling chains, except in proportions below 3%. If suitable industrial facilities aren’t available, they will to go to land fill or incineration.

The definition of biodegradable

“Capable of disintegrating into natural elements in a compost environment, leaving no toxicity in the soil”

Items that are termed ‘home compostable’ are in category of their own and have no internationally recognised specification. They should biodegrade within a time of 6-12 months at an average C30 degrees into beneficial organic components with no toxicity. These should not be sent to landfill because some may produce methane and other gases. Neither should they be added to any recycling because of contamination.

Is Biodegradable the answer?

Given that most paper and plastic materials will degrade over a period of time (albeit some needing hundreds of years!) these are therefore quite unsuited to composting. This results in the term being open to abuse. In the case of conventional, fossil-derived plastics, the degrading additive may even be toxic and therefore what is left in the soil may not be organic or beneficial.  Microplastic particle residue is a topical subject. These enter the soil, finding their way into rivers and oceans, potentially entering the food chain via marine life.

Biodegradable products should not be added to the recycling chain because of the risk of contamination. The result of contamination means sending more to landfill. Uncertified bioplastics should not be added to industrial (or home) composting facilities. Until they are in the right environment, the degrading process will not even begin.


Adding to the confusion between Biodegradable and Compostable, we’re seeing more Bioplastics. These come with certain environmental credentials.  Being derived from renewable plant resources (sugar cane, maize, wheat, cassava, soya) rather than fossil fuel, they require over 60% less energy in manufacture and produce less CO2. The growing of crops for purposes other than food when there are 800 million persons undernourished globally raises other concerns. By increasing the demand for such crops, it raises world commodity prices, thus pushing more persons into food poverty.

Bioplastics are not by definition compostable or biodegradable, so should not be added to either waste stream without clear guidance. We’ve touched on the subject of PLA earlier in the article under the heading of Recycling Plastics. Until there are larger volumes of PLA products that justify their own special re-processing or degrading facilities, as in Germany, then they will continue to go to landfill. Despite being nominally biodegradable (#7) the PLA plastic appears to take too long to degrade in commercial composting facilities that work to specific cycles. A small quantity of PLA in the recycling chain may be tolerated (>3%) and the potential is there to follow Germany’s example in closing this loop.

What’s next for recycling and reducing?

Whilst there may be impatience from certain quarters to make the planet plastic-free, there have been huge advances made over the years to re-use, reduce and recycle. This is a change from the early days of single-use plastic where no serious attention was given to recycling post-consumer waste. Serious efforts have been made to reduce the amount of plastic used in packaging by employing performance-enhancing additives. For example, whole pallets can now be efficiently secured with high performance pallet wrap which means using up to 40% less. Industrial processes that were once shunned for being highly polluting such as de-inking, bleaching and re-pulping of waste paper are now refined in modern plants. This means that this waste is no longer destroying natural life.

Some 5 billion cartons consisting of 75% recycled content manufactured annually in the UK help to create a market for recycled paper. We will have most likely achieved the 2030 target of 85% recycling already, with fewer road miles and less C02 too. It has been estimated that there are 25% more trees growing in the UK now than in the middle of the last century thanks to huge replanting schemes.

What customers expect

The story of plastic has more to be told. Innovation continues to help replace or reduce the amounts that are needed to carry out the same functions. Bioplastics are at an early stage too, with degrading and recycling likely to become more mainstream in the near future. There’s a way to go in terms of using more recycled plastics, but the trend’s going the right way. Companies  and multinationals like Proctor and Gamble willing to get involved will ensure success.

There is no doubt that it is the will of the people to pursue environmental goals in our households. And for organisations to accept corporate responsibility in their policies and practices. Retailers willing to embrace change and respond to customers’ increasing demand for transparency and sustainable practices will win the day from the packaging they choose to other carbon footprint reduction methods.

These will become the drivers for change as we all make informed buying choices in our daily lives and our businesses.

If you would like to find out more about how you can reduce environmental impact with the products you use in your business, drop us a line below.

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There is so much confusion in industry and with consumers alike around the issues of plastics and which solutions provide real benefits to the environment. What are the different industry processes that make ‘greener’ products and are these processes in themselves doing more harm than good? A plastic bag that is bio-degradable sounds like it would be a positive thing for the planet – but in truth, is it? We take a look at some of the myths around eco-friendly products and find out what’s actually good for the environment.

Bio-degradable and what it leaves behind

The idea behind its origins is born out of great intentions. Who wouldn’t want to claim a waste or by product can be completely decomposed by bacteria or living organisms to avoid pollution? This may well be the false impression that some consumers are basing their buying choices on.  The truth is plastic can not bio-degrade in this way. It does break down, that is completely true – but what remains is devastating not only for the environment, but for our own heath too. When plastic breaks down like this, it leaves behind harmful micro-particles that find their way into water ways, the sea, the food we eat and the air we breathe. It is estimated that we eat 50,000 particles of micro-plastics a year and breathe in a similar quantity.* To put it into some kind of context – it is estimated we are consuming a credit card size amount of plastic every week. 75% of the plastic we have produced still exists. There has to a better way.

Is compostable the answer?

Compostable bag

Compostable bag

This is a product made from potato or corn starch and will breakdown entirely. The difference is that compostable bags and compostable plastic alternatives can be added to home composting and this will decompose as it is made from organic matter. In fact, it becomes a nutrient rich compost. So this sounds like amazing news, but here are some negatives. Not all items that are ‘compostable’ can be thrown on the home compost heap. Many can only be processed at an industrial facility – how many consumers realise this or have access to one? Brands need to be really clear about what they are claiming. If a consumer feels hoodwinked into thinking they are playing their part in reducing plastic safely, they will be unforgiving if this turns out not to be the case.

More consumers are starting to take the time to understand the differences in what these terms actually mean and are demanding more from manufactures, brands and local facilities. If you’re feeling the inevitable pressure in looking to change to respected eco alternatives, we can help you make informed decisions about the materials and plastics you use.


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* Health effects of ingesting microplastics – The Guardian