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Polystyrene and polypropylene are types of plastics and are both used in many, many products, including disposable cutlery. They are two of the most common plastics used in consumer goods. Polystyrene and polypropylene cutlery can look similar. However, there are some key differences between the two materials when it comes to disposable forks, spoons, and knives.
Polystyrene is made from a synthetic polymer. It is a rigid and brittle plastic that is transparent or translucent.
Polypropylene is made from a thermoplastic polymer called polypropylene. It is a flexible and durable plastic with a semi-translucent appearance.
Coloring agents can be added during the manufacturing process of both materials so that the cutlery is dyed.
Strength and Rigidity
Polystyrene cutlery tends to be more rigid and less flexible. It can be brittle and may break or snap if excessive force is applied. The tines on polystyrene forks and ridges on knives tend to be sharper than those on polypropylene forks and knives.
Polypropylene cutlery is generally more flexible and have higher impact resistance. They are less likely to break or snap.
Polystyrene has a lower heat resistance compared to polypropylene. It can melt or deform when exposed to high temperatures; this can happen between 160 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (70 to 100 degrees Celsius). This makes polystyrene spoons better for serving with ice cream than with hot soups.
Polypropylene has a higher heat resistance, allowing it to withstand higher temperatures without deforming. Polypropylene forks are better suited than polystyrene for use with hot foods, and are great for eating cold foods as well.
Cost of Products
Polystyrene cutlery is generally more cost effective than polypropylene if both cutlery types are the same weight. Medium weight is our most cost-effective option, while heavy weight cutlery is our most durable. Medium-heavy weight offers a balance between durability and low price.
Polystyrene is not easily recyclable and can last in the environment for a long time, contributing to plastic pollution. Some areas are unable to recycle polystyrene products of any kind.
Polypropylene is widely accepted for recycling in many recycling programs, reducing its impact on the environment. Please check your local laws and waste management regulations to see if plastic cutlery is recyclable in your area.
When choosing between polystyrene and polypropylene cutlery, factors such as intended use, strength requirements, heat resistance needs, cost, and recyclability should be considered. The two materials look similar but have differences that can’t be easily seen.
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