There are many different types of plastic glasses but only one kind contains BPA, and that’s polycarbonate. Glasses made from other plastics are considered BPA free because they don’t contain the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA. We’ll show you how to spot BPA free plastic glasses whether you’re shopping in-store or online.
What is BPA Free Plastic
BPA free plastic is any plastic that’s not polycarbonate. It’s really that easy — if you can spot the differences between plastics.
Polycarbonate is a virtually unbreakable, dishwasher-safe, glass-like plastic. For years, polycarbonate was the top material used to make unbreakable plastic glasses, baby bottles, and food storage containers. However, polycarbonate contains trace amounts of bisphenol-A — BPA for short — and this chemical has some scientists concerned.
Some researchers claim that exposure to BPA may be harmful to humans, though the FDA lists it as safe for consumer use. Honestly, the science and facts about the effects of BPA could fill a lengthy article. But if you prefer to err on the side of caution it’s easy to eliminate BPA from your home.
Retailers carry plenty of products like BPA-free water bottles, plastic sippy cups, plastic glasses and dishes, and even storage containers. If you can identify products made from the following five types of BPA free plastics, you’ll be sure to avoid BPA.
1. Tritan Plastic Glasses & Water Bottles are BPA Free
Tritan plastic is the closest competitor to polycarbonate in terms of glass-like clarity and performance. Products made from Tritan plastic are every bit as durable, unbreakable, and dishwasher-safe as polycarbonate items — and deliver the added perk of being completely BPA free.
2. Polypropylene Plastic Doesn’t Contain BPA
Like Tritan, polypropylene plastic is — and always has been — BPA free. However, polypropylene plastic products are far easier to spot than Tritan items, which look and perform just like polycarbonate goods.
Unlike Tritan and polycarbonate, polypropylene plastic never is perfectly clear. It’s also rubbery in texture and cups can even be squishy. If you notice that, you can be sure the products are BPA-free polypropylene.
I’m often asked if all Tupperware is BPA free. Most Tupperware plastic products are made from rubbery polypropylene, so those are BPA free. However, Tupperware used various plastics over the years, so there may be some polycarbonate Tupperware items floating around. However, the current collections are BPA free.
3. Melamine Plastic is also BPA Free
Melamine plastic is another common BPA free plastic generally used for dishes and dinnerware. Melamine plastic tableware is always opaque and closely resembles ceramic and stoneware in look and feel. It’s never clear like most polycarbonate plastic products.
Ultra-durable melamine is the go-to plastic for top plastic tableware brands like Certified, Merritt, Le Cadeau, and Zak Designs.
4. Acrylic and SAN are BPA Free Plastics
BPA-free Acrylic and SAN plastic products can closely resemble polycarbonate items, but there are differences. Goods made from these plastics generally aren’t as durable, so they’re rarely listed as unbreakable. SAN is dishwasher safe, but acrylic will generally be labeled hand wash only.
If in doubt, read the product details or look the item up online if shopping in-store. Online sellers like Amazon and other websites usually list the material that goods are made from. If it says acrylic, SAN, or styrene, the item is BPA free.
5. Eco-Friendly Plastics are BPA Free
Eco-friendly plastics are crafted from biodegradable “plastics” made from bamboo, corn, and even avocado pits. All of these bio-plastics are BPA free, plus the manufacturers are very vocal about the makeup of their goods. So, you’ll definitely know if you stumble across these items in store and online.
If in Doubt, Check the Label
If a plastic item isn’t clearly labeled BPA-Free, look at the care instructions. Acrylic items are generally marked “Hand-wash,” or “Top-rack Dishwasher-safe” and SAN items say “Dishwasher-safe.” But neither will say “Unbreakable.” Unlike polycarbonate and Tritan, acrylic and SAN can break.
Tritan and polycarbonate are the only glass-like plastics that will be labeled both “Unbreakable” and “Dishwasher-Safe.” However, being BPA-free is a major selling point for Tritan, so those brands highlight that on labels.
Solid-color plastic dishes can be either melamine or polypropylene. The giveaway here is that melamine is very rigid while polypropylene is softer and more rubbery.
Don’t Rely on Recycling Codes
Speaking of labels, there is a BPA free symbol, but not every manufacturer prints it onto their packaging or products yet. What you can’t rely on is the recycling code. Many BPA free plastic glasses fall under the same code as polycarbonate.
Our video on how to identify BPA Free drinkware explains why.
Almost all non-disposable tableware plastics fall under the same catchall #7 recycling code, which simply means “Other.”
“Other” plastics aren’t disposable, so they’re not collected in most recycling programs. Even more confusing, recycling codes aren’t required for “Other” plastics. Many don’t carry a recycling mark at all. Knowing how to tell these plastics apart using these tips above ensures you can spot BPA free options.
Consider Glass Options
Glass drinkware, dishes, and cookware are all BPA free options, too. In fact, several glassware brands offer surprisingly durable drinking glasses, food storage containers, and bakeware. Learn more about tempered glassware and other break-resistant glass alternatives in our unbreakable glassware review.
That’s a Wrap
I hope this review of the many BPA free plastic alternatives helps you narrow down your shopping search. If you have any questions or BPA free faves of your own, please share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading. Cheers! Krista
Polycarbonate vs. BPA Free Plastic Glasses
Overall Results for BPA Free Plastics vs. Polycarbonate
Tritan is the only BPA free plastic delivers the same performance and glass-like looks as polycarbonate. The other four BPA free contenders offer unique benefits but fall short in either glass-like looks or break-resistance. Overall, BPA free products score 4/5 compared to polycarbonate items.
But when it comes to being BPA free — they all get 5 bright, shiny stars!