What is the Difference Between PP and PET Cups?

Every food and beverage business relies heavily on plastic, especially takeout containers and shopping bags. Two of the most common type of plastic used for beverages are PP and PET cups. While they may look and feel the same, their properties differ widely.

If you're in a business that uses these containers, learning their differences will help you choose the better plastic.

PP – Polypropylene Plastic

PP or Polypropylene plastic is the second most used plastic worldwide. It's produced via chain-growth polymerization from monomer propylene. It has a wide range of applications in industrial, medical, packaging, labeling, and clothing.

PET – Polyethylene Plastic

Polyethylene (PET) is also known as polyethylene terephthalate and is available in many forms. Similar to PP, PET also has a wide range of applications, and it's used in one-third of plastic products worldwide. Most businesses opt for this plastic due to its versatility and affordability.

Difference between PP and PET Cups

Environmental Friendliness

When using plastic, you need to consider its eco-friendliness because harmful plastics are the major cause of environmental degradation. Both PP and PET cups can be recycled without major loss and are eco-friendly.


During PET manufacturing, the plastic is heated to an extremely high temperature (known as thermoforming). Due to its high temperature, PET can be molded into any shape. No matter how small the changes you need in your cup design, you can get them from PET plastic. PP cups are also highly pliable and versatile but can't feature subtle design elements. So in terms of versatility, PET cups are better, which is why most businesses opt for them.

Temperature Resistance

Heat and cold resistance are important factors in choosing beverage and food containers. Both PET and PP can withstand high fill temperatures (PP up to 176° Fahrenheit and PET up to 160° Fahrenheit). However, PET performs better at resisting cold from the outside, while PP cups better resist heat from the outside.


PET cups are more translucent than PP cups. PET is manufactured in a specialized way that yields highly transparent material able to transmit light. This is why major coffee chains use PET cups because their transparency makes it easy for customers to see their drinks clearly.

PP cups are opaque and hazy; they don't make the drinks look as good as PET. If you're getting custom prints on your cups, go with PET to get the colors and design just right.

Impact Resistance

PET cups are more impact resistant and durable than PP cups. They aren't prone to cracks and keep your drinks intact.

Barriers to External Elements

While both PP and PET cups are good at resisting external elements like oils, grease, acids, etc., PET cups offer a better oxygen barrier, and PP offers a better barrier to moisture. Oxygen is the major cause of decay and corrosion; this is why PET is a better option to keep food and drinks safe from spoiling.

Iced beverage in a disposable cup

Knowing these differences will help you choose the right plastic for your business. At Custom Cup Factory, we offer a wide range of PP and PET containers, including cups with lids. You can shop for all kinds of restaurant supplies and food packaging customized according to your needs.

Explore our products now.