Metal and Plastic Cup: Which is Better?

While choosing cups for your business or personal use, you might have come across two options: Metal Cups and Plastic Cups.

Both of them are widely used, but choosing one of them becomes a bit difficult, especially if you are unfamiliar with their pros, cons, features, and other intricate details.

In this article, we will explain the types of metal cups and plastic cups and the materials used to make them. We will also compare both to make your selection easier.

What Are Metal Cups Made Of?

Metal cups are made of food-grade metals, such as stainless steel cups, aluminum cups and aluminum tumblers.

These metals are melted and even mixed with some other metals to offer excellent durability. The melted metal is poured into molds of the desired shape to turn it into metal cups. Some metal cups are made by extrusion, deep draw, or snipping.

Some metal cups, such as aluminum cups and copper cups, are also coated with a thin layer of some other material that does not react with acidic drinks.

Finally, the cups are polished to give them a finished look that is clean, even, and shiny.

Types of Metal Cups

You can find three types of metal cups in the market:

Stainless steel and aluminum cups are the most commonly used and preferred. However, copper cups are rarely used.

Stainless Steel Cups

Stainless steel cups are the first choice of people. These are safe for drinking, durable, and corrosion-resistant.

They are made up of food-grade stainless steel, an alloy of steel, chromium, and nickel. Due to the presence of chromium, the alloy does not react with oxygen and other chemicals. It becomes corrosion and rust-resistant. And nickel improves its corrosion resistance, durability, formability, and luster.

The most common type of stainless steel used for metal cups is 304 or 18/8. It contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel.

Stainless steel cups offer incredible durability, lifespan, and hygiene. They are easy to clean and sanitize. They retain temperature for a long time, which is excellent for hot and cold drinks.

Most importantly, they do not react with any drink, even if it is acidic or carbonated. And they are reusable and recyclable.

The features and properties of stainless steel cups are commendable, but they are a bit expensive compared to aluminum cups and plastic cups.

Aluminum Cups

The second choice for metal cup users is aluminum cups. These are made from pure aluminum material, which means there is no mixing of other metals.

It also offers some excellent properties, such as durability, formability, lightweight, and temperature control.

Aluminum is lighter than stainless steel and is more affordable. It is also reusable and recyclable. Aluminum is the most recyclable material in the world, it costs little energy to recycle aluminum.  However, it can’t bear impacts like stainless steel.

The issue with aluminum cups is that they may retain the odor and taste of the drink. Secondly, they can react with acidic drinks, which is why lining or coating an inert material is necessary. However, the aluminum cups in the market are anodized with a coating that is drinking safe.

Copper Cups

Copper cups are also used for drinking. They are durable and appealing. However, pure copper can react with liquids, so it is necessary to line or coat copper cups with tin or any other suitable material to prevent the reaction.

Types of Plastic Cups

Different types of plastics are used for making plastic cups. They are commonly used and disposed of after use.

Some of the plastic materials used for plastic cups are:

PETE: Polyethylene Terephthalate is a common transparent plastic that is used to make disposable cups. It is safe to use, but you can’t pour hot drinks.

HDPE: High-density polyethylene are white opaque plastic cups. They are also safe for cold drinks.

PP: Polypropylene is a BPA-free, heat-resistant plastic used to make reusable plastic cups.

PS: Polystyrene is a foam-like material commonly used for packing items. It is also used to make plastic disposable cups.

What Are the Cons of Using a Cup Made of Steel or Aluminum

Metal cups are preferred over plastic cups because of their benefits. However, there are a few cons you must know.

Expensive: Metal cups are expensive compared to plastic cups. Stainless steel is quite expensive, and after that, we have aluminum on the list.

Heavy: Metals are heavy compared to plastic cups. If you are ordering in bulk, the shipping rates will be higher.

Thermal Conductivity: Metals are known for good thermal conductivity. Therefore, they get hot and cold according to the drink poured into them. If there is no insulation on the handle, you will feel the temperature.

Condensation: Due to thermal conductivity, condensation happens at the outer surface of the metal cups. You will have water drops, which make the handle and cup slippery.

Metal Cups vs Plastic Cups

Let’s compare metal cups and plastic cups on some important aspects to help you make the right choice.

Health Safety

Metal cups are safe, and they can be used for hot and cold drinks without any worries. They do not rust or corrode, and the metal itself does not leach into the drink. They do not raise health and safety concerns and are not questionable or doubtful at all.

On the other hand, plastic cups aren’t safe. There are risks of microplastics in the drinks, especially if the drink is hot. Secondly, there is a risk of BPA, which is a cause of various health issues, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.


Metal cups are extremely durable. They can last for a lifetime. Once they are made, they can work for centuries without any degradation in functionality. They can also bear impact; however, it results in dents and poor appearance.

Plastic cups are not durable. They can get damaged with a small impact. They can’t bear the heat, which is why you can’t put hot drinks in most of them.


Metal cups are reusable and recyclable. They can be recycled again and again to make new cups or other products. Stainless steel and aluminum are in the most recyclable materials list.

On the other hand, plastic cups are not reusable. They are usually disposed of after one use. Then, they are added to the landfill and ocean garbage.

Some types of plastic cups can be recycled. However, there are chances of contamination. Secondly, recycling plastic is more complex.

Heat Retention

Metals have the property to retain heat for a long time. Whether you have poured a hot or cold drink, it can retain the temperature, which is the reason metals are used for making thermos flasks.

On the other hand, plastic cups do not have the capability to retain temperature for a longer duration.


Metal cups are way more expensive than plastic cups. However, their cost is recovered through reusability and recyclability. In that sense, they are way cheaper.

Aluminum CupsStainless Steel CupsPlastic cups
DurabilityDurableMore durableNot durable
RecyclabilityRecyclableRecyclableNot totally recyclable
ReusableReusable or disposableReusableDisposable
Dishwasher safeYes(after special deal)YesNo
Easy of cleaningYesYesYes


After the above introduction, we know that metal cups are generally better than plastic cups. Metal cups have more advantages in durability,safety, recyclability, reusable, dishwasher safe, BPA-FREE, and so on. However, metal cups are usually more expensive than plastic cups. So if you only have a low budget, then you can also consider these plastic cups. Anyhow, it all depends on your decision.

Need Metal Cups at Wholesale?

FLYTINBOTTLE offers a complete range of aluminum and stainless-steel cups for different purposes. We are a one-stop solution with over 20 years of experience.

We offer services in more than 100 countries at reasonable prices. We can make custom cups according to your needs. For more details and samples, feel free to contact us.

Professional on metal cups

FLYTINBOTTLE is a fast-growing brand, we offer one-stop metal cup production, wholesale, bulk, and supply in China. We belong to KEGE group in China, which has been a leading manufacturer of metal cups in China for more than 20 years. We offer types of metal cups, such as aluminum cups, and stainless steel cups qualified and cheaper prices door to door to our customers worldwide.

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