white text reading polyethylene PE vs Polypropylene PP over black plastic background

Updated 4/26/2021

PE vs. PP

When it comes to which is the best for your application, plastics can often seem complicated and confusing. We all know that no two types of packaging are created alike, and that means that different varieties of plastic and poly materials are needed for different applications. Below, we're covering two of the most common types of plastic — polyethylene (PE) vs. polypropylene (PP) — and the key differences between them.

Polyethylene (PE)

Polyethylene (PE) plastic is flexible, durable, and tear-resistant. These three characteristics are each a necessity when you need to packaging heavy-duty items within your poly bags. That means that industrial companies often utilize polyethylene storage bags for large, heavy items, such as industrial machining parts.

  • Inert, translucent, and creates a lower static charge
  • Prohibits a greater amount of light from entering the bag or film, which helps protect the contents
  • Attracts significantly less dirt, dust, or other foreign organic elements
  • Soft and pliable
  • More resistant to cold temperatures and wear and tear
  • Generally less expensive than PP
eight large rolls of polyethylene plastic sheeting wrapped in pe stretch wrap on pallet in loading bay
metal chain in clear gusseted polypropylene bag on white background

Polypropylene (PP)

A polypropylene bag is high clarity and crystal clear in order to enhance the image of whatever product is inside. This PP bag offers a highly protective barrier against both moisture and vapors. These poly bags delay evaporation and dehydration to preserve the freshness and taste of packaged foods. Generally, PP plastics are stronger, clearer, and more expensive than their PE plastic counterparts. Polypropylene bags are great for the following industries — food, electronics and electronics manufacturing, hospitals, agriculture, and more.

  • More resistant to chemicals, high temperatures, and scratches
  • Crystal clear for great product presentation
  • Stiff and hard plastic
  • Rough surface has the potential to produce scratches
  • Outstanding vapor and moisture barrier
  • Meets FDA and USDA specifications
  • Difficult to break, but not very flexible

Plastics for All Applications

Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP) are used in much more than just poly bags. From stretch film to tape, plastic sheeting to strapping, plastic is everywhere. Better yet, both materials are recyclable, which makes them a great choice for those with sustainability in mind. Check out the links below to shop our products and see how we can help you.

Most Common Polypropylene Products

*Editor's note: This post was originally published on 11/18/2011 and has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date content available.

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