The versatility of plastics makes it a ubiquitous material. It is used to make ornaments to cheap carry bags. But all plastics are not the same and will not serve the same functions across the board. Although many different varieties of plastics may look and feel the same, the properties of the different varieties of plastic may widely differ.
Two of the most commonly used plastics are Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene (PET). Both PP and PET are highly versatile. They do not have the same characteristics and should not be used interchangeably. PP and PET have their own strengths and weaknesses arising from the different properties of the materials used.
What is Polypropylene (PP)?
Polypropylene is produced by a process called chain-growth polymerization from monomer propylene. PP is the second most widely used plastic in the world. PP has a myriad of applications in clothing, medical, industrial applications, packaging, and labeling.
What is Polyethylene (PET)?
Polyethylene is the most commonly available plastic in the world. One-third of the global plastic consumption is PET. Scientifically, PET is known as polyethylene terephthalate. There are many variants of PET available in the market differing in the manufacturing processes and characteristic properties.
Both PP and PET can be used for a wide range of purposes. They have unique characteristics that distinguish one from the other. Both PP and PET have their advantages and drawbacks. While PP might be well suited for some specific purposes, PET might be well suited for some other specific purposes. Let us breakdown the different characteristics to help make a decision between PP and PET.
PET plastic is manufactured by a process called thermoforming. In thermoforming, the plastic is heated to a very high temperature where it can be molded into virtually any shape. PET is pliable to small forces and even minutely small changes in design can be exactly replicated by PET plastic.
This is not to say that PP is in any manner not versatile. PP is also highly pliable and can be transformed into any shape. But in comparison, PET is more versatile and pliable, especially when working with nuanced designs.
Both PP and PET are eco-balanced. Both the plastic can be easily recycled without any significant loss. Even though both PP and PET are on equal footing in this respect, it is important to mention that environmental friendliness is an important factor to be considered while selecting a plastic. Both PP and PET gains points in this regard.
Take a look at “4 Types of Custom Coffee Sleeves” to see options on coffee cups/sleeves for your coffee shop.
PET plastic is generally translucent in nature. PET plastic created by some processes are remarkably transparent and transmits light as well as glass. For this reason, PET is widely used for plastic cups. Customers would like to see with clarity through plastic especially when it is used to contain something as common and significant as water or other drinks.
PP in comparison is much more opaque than PET. So it is less often used as a plastic cup. Still, it is used as it gives a distinctive look to the cup especially when added with colors.
Take a break from learning about plastics for a full guide to becoming the perfect Barista in “How To Be A Barista 101“.
When used for takeaway containers, heat/cold resistance and fill temperatures become significant, PP is able to withstand slightly higher fill temperatures compared to PET but not by a great margin. While the filling temperature PET plastic can withstand is 160 degrees Fahrenheit, PP plastic can withstand fill temperatures up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. It may not be a significant difference but needs to be considered for sensitive instances.
PP plastic resists heat from outside better than PET. At the same time, PET plastic resists cold from outside much better than PP. Both PP plastic and PET plastic have a wide range of temperature resistance and the superiority of one kind of plastic over the other kind of plastic is by thin margins.
PET plastic holds itself well in comparison to PP plastic. It shows a high level of durability than PP. PET plastic is also more reluctant to form cracks on impact. This might be important in some businesses but probably not an important factor for consideration for most businesses.
Resistance to External Elements
Plastics, in general, do an excellent job in keeping the external elements outside the plastic enclosing. Both PET plastic and PP plastic do excellent work in resisting acids, grease, and oils. PP plastic is a better barrier to moisture and alcohol compared to PET. But when it comes to creating a barrier for oxygen PET works better in comparison. As oxygen is the major cause of corrosion and decay, it is an important factor to be considered in the decision-making process especially when plastic is used to enclose food.
Both PP and PET can be put to use very effectively to brand your business. But both achieve in separate ways and both have their benefits. PP plastic can be printed on with different colors and it does not erase easily. For these purposes, PP plastic is a better choice. But the problem that might occur is that once printed, these containers cannot be repurposed to another use. So it is permanent in nature. If the demand is already known and the supply is barely meeting the demand PP plastic is a safe route to go.
Also, check out “5 Brand Tips for Small Businesses” for tips on how to brand your business correctly.
But, PET plastic is not very easy to print on. So generally sleeves made out of paper, cardboard, or thin plastic is used for the purposes of branding. In this scenario, the same containers can be repurposed for different uses as the branding is an add-on sleeve. The sleeve needs to be added only in the final stages if necessary. A most common example is used in the beverage industry. For example, Coca-Cola, Sprite, Diet Coke, etc. are manufactured by the same Coca-Cola Company. All these brands use the same PET bottles of the same shape and size. This way the same PET containers can be used for multiple brands very easily and economically. Because of this versatility, a business could order PET containers in bulk and gain a discount on the volume. It is made possible because branding can be done using custom sleeves.
Thinking already about your cafe shop and if to use a logo or not? Well we recommend checking out “10 Things to Think About When Designing a Cafe Logo“
There is no clear winner for every category of use. Each business has its own requirements and the choice of plastic should complement the requirements for that business.
Thank you for reading! Now that you have a feel for what kind of plastic to use for your coffee shop cups, leave a comment below letting us know what else you would like to learn from Brand My Cafe.
Also for more helpful tips on starting your small business, check out ” 8 Things You Should Know Before Opening a Coffee Shop” or “7 Things You Should Know Before Opening Restaurant“.
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