What is the Difference Between Polypropylene and Polyethylene?

Plastic Gift Bags

When it comes to plastic packaging, there are two basic choices: polyethylene and polypropylene. Polyethylene bags are translucent plastic while polypropylene bags are completely clear. However, deciding which type of plastic packaging is right for your business involves more complex factors than basic aesthetics.

Polyethylene Bags

Polyethylene Bags

Polyethylene is a strong and flexible material that is resistant to rips and tears, making it ideal for heavy-duty packaging applications. Its semi-transparent quality also makes it useful as a protective material. For example, museums and archivists often use polyethylene plastic to guard important items from sun damage.

These bags are frequently used by comic book stores and collectors for the same reason. Since sunlight fades images and text, unprotected exposure to sun may cause books to lose their value over time.

Other great qualities of polyethylene bags include:

  • Low static charge
  • Hides the details of the product
  • Soft and flexible
  • Resistant to dirt and dust
  • 100% pure material
Polypropylene Bags

Polypropylene Bags

Polypropylene offers a high degree of clarity, making it optimal for showcasing products like fresh foods. It provides a protective barrier without compromising visibility. Additionally, since it prevents evaporation or exposure to bacteria, it helps to preserve products. Polypropylene’s protective qualities make it perfect for any item that needs to stay clean and visible, such as medical or dental equipment.

Polypropylene bags are:

  • Compliant with all FDA and USDA recommendations
  • Useful with food
  • Incredibly strong and flexible
  • Protective against vapor, moisture, and dirt

How to Choose Your Packaging Material

Before making a decision, consider budget, products, and the efficient delivery of your products to the customers.

If you sell products that do not require protective measures, price may be the deciding factor. Polyethylene is generally more expensive due to the purity of the material and the protection it provides. If you find a quality source, you will be able to stock up on either type of plastic packaging with minimal costs.

For more information about polyethylene and polypropylene bags, please contact us today. The dedicated Paper Mart team is knowledgeable about our 26,000+ products and are ready to help you find anything you need.

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  1. Greg Wolf says:

    Which material (PP or PE) better for custom printing (logo/design)?
    Which is more non-skid?
    Greg Wolf

  2. Since it seems like polyethene would suit my packaging needs more than polypropylene. Though I will admit that both materials sound like it could do the job well. My preference came down to the details because I’ve found that the small details can make a big difference.

    • Hi Zequek,
      Thank you for your comment! It’s a matter of translucent versus clear for most people, but as you mentioned, there are more details to consider depending upon your needs. We hope this post helps people to decide what works for them. Thanks for reading!


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