white plastic knife and fork on a blue napkin

What is the Difference Between Polypropylene and Polystyrene Cutlery?

Takeout and delivery orders are more popular than ever before, and customers expect to find convenient disposable plastic cutlery in their package. Whether you're an eat-in restaurant or a food truck that offers tasty treats to those on the go; your customers expect premium plastic cutlery. With so many colors and styles it can be hard to find the best disposable cutlery for your business.


One of the questions we come across most often here at CiboWares is: what is the difference between polypropylene and polystyrene plastic cutlery? Is it something you need to be aware of when shopping for to go cutlery for your foodservice business?

What is Polypropylene?

Polypropylene is one of the most popular plastics in the world. It was first developed in the 1950s using propylene monomers and was found to be very versatile. Because of this versatility it became widely used very quickly. Polypropylene has a high melting point, doesn't break down easily, is resistant to cracks and can withstand lots of wear and tear.


When it comes to your health polypropylene is BPA free and is considered to be one of the safest plastics. The FDA has approved the use of polypropylene for products that come into contact with food including takeout containers and plastic disposable cutlery. Even the EPA officially states there is no apparent toxicity in polypropylene. Products made from polypropylene will have a number 5 inside the mobius loop (triangular recycling arrows) and can sometimes be recycled - it varies from region to region.


What is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a type of plastic that is created from the polymerization of styrene. This plastic was first created in the 1800s but wasn't widely used until the late 1930s. Since polystyrene is naturally transparent it became very popular for food containers, but is also widely used to make solid colored polystyrene foam products more widely known as styrofoam™.


All of our polystyrene products are FDA approved for food contact. Polystyrene products will have a number 6 inside the mobius loop and can be recycled sometimes - depending on local regulations. Recycled polystyrene is often melted down and reused in foam insulation and to create packing peanuts.


polypropylene vs polystyrene cutlery comparison chart

Polypropylene cutlery vs polystyrene cutlery


Polypropylene cutlery is perfect for use with foods that are softer and not difficult to cut like pasta. Polypropylene cutlery is also more bendable compared to polystyrene cutlery, so it's less likely to snap. Polypropylene plastic has a shinier surface and a higher heat tolerance than polystyrene.


Polystyrene cutlery features a denser design and is not as bendable as polypropylene cutlery so they are more prone to breaking under heavy pressure. Their durable design makes them perfect for cutting through tough food items such as steak. This plastic is better suited for creating sharper edges on cutlery so they can cut through tough food with ease.


Polypropylene and polystyrene both have their strengths, but the strength of the cutlery also varies based on the thickness. Here at CiboWares Medium Heavy and Heavy Weight cutlery in both materials, and medium weight polypropylene cutlery. The chart to the right helps summarize the strengths of each type.



The Verdict

Ultimately when it comes to polystyrene vs polypropylene there is no one best disposable cutlery, both have their strengths and are viable options for most food service businesses. We hope this little guide has helped you find the disposable cutlery option that best suits your business! If you still have questions, or need help finding any product reach out to us! We love to hear from our customers and we're happy to help.


CiboWares has a wide selection of polypropylene and polystyrene plastic cutlery available! Forks, knives, teaspoons, soup spoons, and spork cutlery are available in medium weight and heavyweight styles, and cutlery kits containing forks, knives, teaspoons, soup spoons, sporks, napkins, straws, and salt and pepper packets are also sold so customers can enjoy meals on the go with ease.






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Disposable Cutlery