Is Duct Tape Recyclable? (And Biodegradable?)

We need duct tape for many things; it is a great help while working out, for making temporary or even permanent repairs in the home, and for emergency first aid like band-aids and bandages. It even helps with warts!

Duct tape was previously army green and was known as “duck tape” because its water-resistant nature was similar to water gliding off a duck’s feathers. But when everyone became aware of its widespread applications, the color changed to the attractive silver we are familiar with today.

The facts about duct tape are fascinating, speaking of its strength, diversity, and double-sided effects. But if you want to know if duct tape can be recycled, keep reading. The purpose of this blog post is to highlight the most environmentally sensitive method of disposing of duct tape.

Can Duct Tape be Recycled?

No, duct tape cannot be recycled. Unfortunately, duct tape contains adhesive and chemicals which you cannot separate from the polyester or cotton base. Therefore, it may wreak havoc on the recycling machine or clog it.

At best, you can throw your duct tape in the garbage can and stay loyal to recycling your other waste items that are acceptable at a recycling center.

Duct tape no doubt has many uses. Let’s start with a fascinating one, which is arts and crafts. One of the numerous brands of duct tape, the Duck brand, organizes an annual competition where fashion enthusiasts design a prom dress entirely out of duct tape for a grand prize of $3000.

Furthermore, soldiers in the war used it to prolong the shelf life of their canned foods by sealing the packages with it. Here’s our favorite – duct tape is so strong that you can use it to make a rope to help someone up during an emergency rescue.

You can purchase glow-in-the-dark duct tape to spice up your work for individual arts and crafts projects. Not to mention the ability to use duct tape to repair or make almost anything; try it and see.

However, all these uses for duct tape mean only one thing – there is certainly a high demand for and consumption of it. One of the leading statistics about duct tape is the sale of 873 million yards of this adhesive in 2005.

Of course, the demand for this item has increased significantly since then, considering that more and more uses for it arise each decade.

Unfortunately, today’s current technology cannot recycle duct tape because of high-energy requirements, among other things. Therefore, you will have to throw the useless duct tape in the garbage can. You should also keep reading because we’ll show you what you can do with your old duct tape that does not involve throwing it in the garbage can.

Is Sticky Tape Recyclable?

No, sticky tape is not recyclable. Again, this type of adhesive tape contains chemicals you cannot separate without consuming a high amount of energy. Therefore, you need to put it in the garbage can.

We know it will end up in a landfill. But technology has not yet provided a way to get around recycling materials like this, so you need to consider alternatives.

Like duct tape, there are diverse uses for sticky tape today. Need to remind yourself of something? Write it on a note and use sticky tape to attach it to the wall. Or, perhaps you need to seal a package or join two things together, then it will also work.

Sticky tape may also be sent your way; from a package or a gift, and you will have to dispose of it. Unfortunately, it is not accepted at recycling centers, so you will have to remove it from what it has been attached to and recycle that item separately.

There is a bright side, though. Some recycling centers accept only a bit of sticky tape attached to your package – cardboard box, gift bag, or any other recycle-machine-friendly product.

If it is made of cardboard or paper, the workers at the recycling center will soak the item in some water to make it more pliable in the recycling machine. Extended soaking periods will loosen up the adhesive while softening the cardboard, and the materials will be separated afterward.

But this doesn’t mean you can soak the cardboard to separate the sticky tape yourself. Recycling centers don’t accept wet cardboard, which would be a waste.

At best, you can remove the sticky tape as much as you can and leave the rest to the workers at the recycling center.

Can Paper With Tape be Recycled?

No, you cannot recycle paper with a tape unless the tape is made of wood pulp. Even then, the adhesive is created when an array of chemicals are combined, and separating these substances from the product is always tricky, if not impossible.

You cannot recycle paper with tape; remove it before taking the waste product to the recycling center, or your items will be rejected.

Your best bet with dealing with tape from paper is throwing it in the garbage can.

It is a general requirement of recycling centers that you remove the tape from anything you want to recycle. You can do it at home too, and it is easier if everyone removes it before bringing it to be recycled.

You cannot recycle the tape with paper because of the adhesive. It will be combined with wastepaper in the recycling machine and ruin everything. Corrupted results won’t do anyone any good, and it certainly won’t help recycling centers make their money back.

Peel off as much of the tape as possible and throw it in the garbage can.


Can You Recycle Boxes with Tape?

Again, you cannot recycle boxes with tape. As long there is tape, the chances that a recycling center will accept the waste item will reduce. This is because it is difficult or impossible to recycle tape due to the substances utilized in its production.

Although natural materials like cotton and rubber are mostly used, the adhesive coating, which is perhaps the most important part of the tape, will pollute the paper that’s to be used to make new products.

Instead of pure cardboard for newer products, a sticky mess will come out of the recycling bin.

Online shopping has become more accessible thanks to interaction or renowned outlets like Amazon and Shein. You can get delivery within hours to days after placing your order, but it will likely come in bubble wrap or a taped box, depending on the size.

If you are among the 26.28 percent of the world’s population that shops online, you will receive your fair share of boxes with tape. The high number of online shoppers is one of the reasons everyone needs to learn about proper waste disposal.

Unfortunately, throwing your tape in the garbage can is the only way to help the environment. Because of how it is made, recycling it with other materials or even alone won’t end well.

Even if your box is fully lined with tape, remove most of it before taking it to the recycling center. Otherwise, it may turn out to be a wasted trip.

Furthermore, you should refrain from soaking the box to loosen up the tape. Once again, removing as much as possible and leaving the rest in the recycling center is better than soaking it.

Is Duct Tape Biodegradable?

It depends – some brands use biodegradable materials while others use synthetic materials. The former products are made with items like cotton, rubber, and paper and will therefore break down fast.

On the other hand, synthetic substances like isoprene, styrene, and polyester will remain in our landfills for decades to centuries after their biodegradable counterparts have decomposed. This is because they are more resistant to microbes and other factors that contribute to biodegrading.

You can buy biodegradable duct tape, but it must be a conscious decision. This means you will need to check the label, look for indications of the addition of non-biodegradable substances, and put it back on the shelf if the answer is non-satisfactory.

There are biodegradable duct tape brands like EcoEnclose and Noissue; these will break down within one to three months after reaching the landfill or even your compost pile.

Is Duct Tape Waterproof?

No, duct tape is not waterproof but is water resistant. Therefore, it is a great temporary solution to cracked windows, ceramic items, and other places you must protect from water damage.

After the fabric of duct tape is created, a polyethylene coating is placed on top to

Applying duct tape to vinyl, plastic, glass, or aluminum surface works like magic in keeping water out or in. However, this solution is only temporary if the water is being kept out and the internal surface isn’t moist.

Otherwise, moisture reduces the strength of the adhesive coating over time. It weakens it and eventually loosens the chemical bond between the surface and the glue.

Unfortunately, the glue isn’t waterproof, but it will do well against water for a considerable period. This makes it great for dealing with cracks in the roof, on boats, or other surfaces you want to seal temporarily.

Can Duct Tape Catch on Fire?

No, duct tape cannot catch fire, but it will melt at a temperature that exceeds 200°F. Although cotton or rubber fabric is used in the initial layer of this item, the adhesive coating is fire resistant.

As a result, you can use it for high-heat applications.

What Can You do With Old Duct Tape?

Here are a couple of things you can do with old duct tape:

1. Remove Pet Fur

If you have a pet dog or cat, chances are you will deal with hair on the carpet, drapes, and furniture from time to time. Instead of throwing old duct tape away, use the strips to attack hairs before putting them in the garbage can.

2. Seal Cracks

You can place a good strip of duct tape over a crack instead of throwing it away. But you need to be conscious of the strength of the adhesive coating. Only use old strips that will hold up against the surface you are placing them on.

3. Compost It

We bet you didn’t know you can compost old duct tape. There is a caveat, though – it must be made from biodegradable materials, or it will not break down. Maybe this is your cue to start shopping in the green section of the supermarket.


There are so many areas where using duct tape will be super handy. This item is also purported to be so strong that you may be able to use it to pull a car when two long strips are placed on each other.

Duct tape is not just functional but in diverse and fascinating areas. Tragically, we cannot recycle it yet, so put your old duct tape to use or in the garbage can.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.