Guide to plastic types

recyclebinWe’ve put together a brief overview of the types of plastic you’ll encounter when buying disposable or reusable catering supplies from our store. There a several different types each with their own properties and characteristics.

Knowing the type of plastic used can make a difference to your choice of glasses for an event or the supplies you use in a pub, bar or club.

A summary of the various plastic types is included below, along with the relevant plastic recycling code. If you’re running an event and need to put procedures in place to recycle the materials used, you can check the facilities at processing plants / collections available in your area for this code.

#7 PLA PP (Polylactic Acid)

This cornstarch based product has gained huge popularity since 2018 as a replacement for traditional plastics, both in linings used on paper products and for disposable glasses themselves. We offer a range of paper cups that use PLA as a lining, this allows them to be full biodegradable as PLA breaks down naturally. The PLA plastic glasses offer a similar feel and appearance to the glossy PET glasses; however they are recognisable by a slightly yellow tint.

 #1 PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

This is a glossy and completely clear form of plastic, commonly used for smoothie cups and other colourful drinks where appearance is especially important. They have a level of flexibility between polypropylene and crystal polystyrene, not easily broken at all. Even if the items are intentionally cracked they tend to stay in a since piece and do not shatter. This makes them easily usable at festivals and outdoor events.

 #7 Polycarbonate (PC)

You’d encounter polycarbonate when looking at our extensive range of reusable plastic glasses. This is a rigid and extremely strong form of plastic, so strong in fact that it’s what police riot shields are made from. For all intents and purposes this material is near indestructible in use; it can be dropped, stepped on, crushed etc. Polycarbonate is more expensive so these glasses tend to cost more, you’ll find this used in plastic glasses designed to replace traditional glassware.

 #5 PP (Polypropylene)

This is a very commonly encountered plastic, used for a huge variety of different glasses. It is recognisable by its slightly opaque appearance. The material has a high degree of natural flexibility which makes it very resistant to cracking or other similar damage. Thinner polypropylene glasses can be squashed flat when collected after a festival for example, this leaves no small shards of plastic. Thicker polypropylene glasses such as our Katerglass range have huge natural strength due to the thicker sidewalls while still maintaining a level of flexibility.

 #6 PS (Crystal Polystyrene)

A very rigid and completely clear form of plastic, traditionally used for stemmed glasses but can also be found in other disposable tumblers where the glass cannot have a clouded appearance. Crystal polystyrene will maintain its shape and has a small degree of flexibility; it’s great in terms of appearance and can be made to look almost like glassware to the untrained eye. The only downside is that if the item is damaged it can shatter into smaller pieces, it’s also more fragile than other forms of plastic on this list. A lot of formal glasses are made from crystal polystyrene, champagne flutes and wineglasses for example.

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