Can You Recycle Boxes With Tape? (Find Out Now!)

Jennifer Eggerton
by Jennifer Eggerton

Now that you’re all moved in, the last item on your list is to get rid of the cardboard moving boxes. It seems such a shame to throw them out. Can you recycle boxes with tape?

Boxes with tape can be recycled if the tape is recyclable. Paper tape is recyclable if the tape doesn’t contain chemicals and plastic. Masking tape, painter’s tape, duct tape, Scotch® tape, and cloth tape cannot be recycled. The recycling center removes tape and labels, or you can remove them. Remove any packaging materials. Collapse the boxes.

Every year, households throw out 9,000 pieces of cardboard, and 17 billion cardboard tubes end up in the landfill. Recycling keeps cardboard out of landfills, and produces 50% less sulfur dioxide.

Let’s take a look at boxes, tape, and other items used for shipping. We’ll also discuss best practices for recycling and disposing of these items.

How Do You Dispose of Cardboard Boxes?

There are 3 ways to dispose of cardboard boxes and tubes – throw them in the trash, give them to someone who can sue them, or recycle them.

What Types of Boxes are Recyclable?

Corrugated and paperboard boxes can be recycled. Corrugated cardboard is the type that is used most often. It is brown in color and has three layers. The outer two layers are smooth, and the inner layer is wavy. Paperboard boxes are typically whit in color and thinner than corrugated cardboard boxes.

What Types of Boxes Cannot Be Recycled?

Boxes that are coated cannot be recycled. This includes boxes covered with wax, plastic film, velvet, foil, glitter, and other embellishments. Check the bottom of the box. If you see a recycling symbol, the box can be recycled. The recycling symbol is a triangle shape made with three arrows.

Can You Recycle Tape?

Not all types of tape can be recycled. Some tape is made with chemicals and plastic. Paper tape is recyclable. Unfortunately, few tapes are made with paper. Tapes that cannot be recycled include:

  • Cloth tape
  • Duct tape
  • Scotch® tape
  • Painter’s tape
  • Masking tape

Is All Paper Tape Recyclable?

Most paper tapes can be recycled, but not all. Paper tape that has an adhesive on it may not be recyclable. This includes self-adhesive tape and tape that sticks when you moisten the adhesive. In recent years, paper tape products have been improved to make them recyclable. They are made from paper and a natural adhesive. The easiest way to tell if a tape is recyclable is to look for the recycling symbol on the packaging.

Can You Recycle Boxes with Tape?

If your cardboard boxes have paper tape on them, they are 100% recyclable. Boxes with any other type of tape are not recyclable. The recycling center may accept the boxes with tape, but the tape is removed before processing the boxes.

Do I Need to Remove Tape from Boxes Before Recycling?

Recycling centers typically remove tape and labels from cardboard boxes for you. It is very helpful to remove any non-recyclable labels and tape before dropping off the boxes.

Can You Put Tape in Cardboard Recycling Bins?

You cannot put tape in cardboard recycling bins unless you know for sure that the tape is recyclable. The best practice is to remove labels and tape from the boxes before putting them in the bin. Throw out the tape and labels in the regular trash bin or dumpster.

Is the Tape on Amazon® Boxes Recyclable?

Amazon® ships an estimated 1.6 million packages every day, and that’s a lot of cardboard boxes and tape. The company recently updated its packing tape to a paper-based product. Every Amazon® shipping box is now 100% recyclable. This does not include the packing materials inside the boxes. Check the labeling on the packing material to see if it’s recyclable. If there isn’t a label, throw it in the trash bin.

What Packing Materials Can You Recycle?

The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the United States generates 75 million tons of packing waste each year. Only about 50% is recycled. That means that more than 8 billion pounds ends up in landfills each year, and that comes out to 22,650,000 pounds per day. Recycling everything that we can reduces the burden on our landfills and protects the environment. As more of us turn to online shopping as our primary source of retail therapy, the amount of packaging waste will only increase.

Reuse and recycle as much of the packing material as you can. Here are the most common types of packing materials that can be recycled.

  • Paper, including brown packing paper and shredded paper
  • Plastic mailing envelopes
  • Bubble wrap
  • Air-filled packing bubbles
  • Water-soluble starch packing peanuts and foam (you can also dissolve them in the shower with water)
  • Polystyrene peanuts and foam pieces

Can You Recycle Styrofoam®?

Styrofoam® cannot be recycled. It takes about 500 years for the material to decompose in a landfill. Find a use for it around your home instead of throwing it in the trash bin.

Can You Recycle Packing String?

Packing string is not used much anymore, but the delivery companies still see this packaging material on some shipments. The most common form is a rough, brown twine, and this is 100% recyclable. Cotton packing string is also used, and it can also be recycled.

Related Questions

Are cardboard boxes good for storage?

Cardboard boxes are not ideal for long-term storage. The material breaks down, and it is susceptible to water damage, pests, and mold. Plastic storage bins are better for long-term storage.

Do you take painter’s tape off before the paint dries?

Wait until the paint is completely dry before removing the painter’s tape. If you remove it too soon, you risk smudging the paint and creating an uneven paint line.


By recycling our cardboard boxes, tape, and packing materials, we can protect the environment. Landfills are already overwhelmed with trash. According to the EPA, we only recycle about half of our packaging material waste. Recycling these items is very easy. Remove any labels or tape that aren’t recyclable. Collapse the boxes, and put them in your recycling bins, or take them to a local recycling center.

Jennifer Eggerton
Jennifer Eggerton

Jennifer L. Eggerton loves being hands-on, whether it's with a home DIY project, making repairs, re-decorating a room, or keeping life organized. She enjoys helping people by sharing her knowledge, insights, and experiences, as well as her lessons learned. In addition to her work as a writer, Jennifer is a Jeep® overlander, self-published author, and nature photographer who loves being outdoors.

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