The route to success with simple yet sustainable tear strips
Unboxing is an exciting experience for customers as they eagerly receive their newly purchased product. However, this process must be both enjoyable and hassle-free. This is where tear strips come into play, a simple yet effective solution that allows customers to quickly and easily unbox their product without any frustration. Tear strips are perforated strips of paper applied to packaging, allowing for easy opening without scissors or knives. With tear strips, unboxing can be a stress-free and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. But are the strips, besides their usefulness, also sustainable?
Video: Easiness of opening a package with a tear strip.
The challenge of suitable strips is the failure of opening, mainly caused by the delamination of paperboard and the separation of layers in corrugated cardboard. Therefore, the default solution is a tear strip made by glueing a plastic strip to the inside of the tear strip. While these tear strips effectively made packaging more accessible, they posed significant environmental concerns due to the non-biodegradable nature of the plastic coating, on top of using extra materials on top of the material of the package itself.
Available research about the technique behind tear strips
Presently, the paperboard industry lacks standardized shapes or ratios and no established guidelines for this aspect. Additionally, research on this topic is scarce (Bota & Petković, 2020).
Image: Different designs of tear strips (Bota & Petković, 2020).
Researchers from the University of Zagreb (Bota & Petković, 2020) conducted tests and evaluated the prevailing tear strip designs available in the market. The research from the University pointed out several important conclusions about the optimal design of a tear strip. The packaging's compression resistance, also known as stackability, is reduced by tear strips. According to research, the optimal design option is to have 45° angled cuts. A wider tear strip of 13mm increases the success rate of opening the packaging by human handling. There is also some indication that a 0.5mm increase between cuts can slightly improve the compression resistance.
ZeroPackagings' sustainable tear strips
With the growing demand for eco-friendly packaging options, tear strip technology has advanced to include 100% paper tear strips, eliminating the use of non-recyclable materials and extra materials. ZeroPackaging is innovating tear strips where the ultimate goal is a 100% functional tear strip without the use of plastics or any other supplementary material to boost its functionality.
Images: Newly developed paper tear strips.
We now fabricated a design that does not need extra paper or plastic. We found most materials do not need plastic or a different composition to function fully.
The first improvement we applied was from plastic to very robust paper tear tape. This innovation was helpful for specific types of paper, cardboard or corrugated cardboard. Next, we experimented with tear strips with different segment spacing (SEG), width (W), angles of the tear strip (A) (see image below) and flute directions. Flutes are the wave-shaped layers of cardboard that provide strength and cushioning to the material. We found that perpendicular flute direction (if assured by the supplier) with SEG of 14mm, 2W and A+2 works optimally. SEG 11mm with 2W and A+2 is the safest option if the flute direction cannot be assured.
Image: Technical aspects of a tear strip.
Image: Tests with different types of tear strips.
Look at the 100% success rate of the SEG 14 mm tear strips in the video below.
Interested to learn more about how we can help your company become more sustainable using 100% paper tears strips? Do not hesitate to contact us; we will happily explore the options together!
Bota, Josip & Petković, Gorana. (2020). Evaluation of zipper tear strip design structure for paperboard packaging. 10.24867/GRID-2020-p32.
Logbook from ZeroPackaging's research
Robatech AG. (z.d.). Applying tear strips quickly | Robatech. https://www.robatech.com/en/applications/tear-strip
All images and videos, unless stated otherwise, are made by ZeroPackaging.