I’m often asked if so-called unbreakable plastic glasses are truly unbreakable, and I’m not surprised by this question at all. Plastic drinkware brands make various claims when it comes to durability — break-resistant, shatterproof, unbreakable — but these labels can be a bit confusing and sometimes even misleading.
Actually, the answer is an easy one. Of all the different plastics used to make plastic glasses, tumblers, stemware, and dishes, only three plastics are really unbreakable under impact: Polycarbonate, Tritan and Polypropylene.
Polycarbonate and Tritan — for Unbreakable Plastic Glasses that Look Like Glass
When it comes to looks, performance and pricing, plastic glasses made from Polycarbonate and Tritan plastics are very similar. These glasses are generally rigid, have glass-like clarity, are dishwasher-safe, and will last for years in household use. They’re widely used in hotels and restaurants too, so you know they’ll hold up at home.
Polypropylene — for Casual, Colorful Unbreakable Plastic Glasses
Polypropylene is the third unbreakable plastic and it looks and feels very different from Tritan and Polycarbonate. Polypropylene plastic drinking glasses are dishwasher-safe, generally tinted or opaque, and often come in colors. They also feel softer and slightly rubbery — like Tupperware and Rubbermaid plastic storage containers.
So What About the Other Plastics?
But don’t fret if you already have plastic glasses and you’re not sure of the type. Plastic drinkware made from acrylic and acrylic blends like SAN are very popular and still quite durable. These plastics can crack if dropped on tile, but they’re generally attractive, reasonably priced, and still much safer than glass for busy homes, outdoor dining and entertaining.
Notes on My Testing, Opinions and Assessment
I’ve sourced a large number of plastic tableware brands for over a decade, for both home and commercial use, so I’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to plastic glasses. My assessment of an “unbreakable” item is one that will not break under normal household, restaurant and hotel use — such as when dropped on tile floors, or knocked around in the sink or dishwasher. Excessive force, such as dropping from a 10th floor balcony is not normal use (and dangerous to those below!), so I can’t promise the items listed will survive if you decide to test them this way.
Though, (I must admit) in a crazy moment, we did test Strahl brand glasses by dropping them from a 4th floor balcony onto a concrete pool deck and they didn’t break. Strahl rocks! See our full review and the best shopping deals we found on Faves! Strahl Unbreakable Plastic Drinkware.
What About Unbreakable Plastic Glasses and BPA?
If you’re concerned about BPA in plastic glasses but definitely want an unbreakable plastic, just look for Tritan or Polypropylene items. Polycarbonate is the one and only plastic that’s made using BPA — all the rest are BPA-free.