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Glass vs. Plastic Tupperware: Which is Better?

A collage of glass and plastic Tupperware.

The glass vs Tupperware debate has been going on for decades. I struggle with this myself since I use both and find glass and Tupperware useful for various reasons. This makes it difficult to choose one over the other. Below is more information about both, so that you can decide for yourself which is better to use.

Related: Food Storage Ideas | Types of Food Storage Containers | Cold Storage Food Preservation | Types of Resealable Bags for Food | Methods of Food Preservation | Kitchen Storage Ideas 

What is Tupperware?

Tupperware website

Tupperware is a brand of kitchen products, mainly containers, made of plastic and used to store food. The brand and products have been around for over 50 years.

History of Tupperware

Tupperware sign at a store in Berlin, Germany.

Earl Tupper was a scientist who developed the plastic now known as Tupperware. He was also behind the airtight lids on Tupperware, which were modeled after paint can lids. He invented the plastic in 1938, although it was not introduced to consumers until 1946.

With the help of businesswoman Brownie Wise, Tupper was able to make his plastic a household name, which even today is known worldwide and continues to be sold year after year in house parties and small storefronts.

What is Tupperware Made of?

Tupperware word concept.

Tupperware is made up of very sturdy plastic. The lid is airtight so that food can be stored and fresh for a period of time. Plastics are rated by numbers. Most Tupperware is made with low-density polyethylene (LDPE, also called plastic #4) and polypropylene (PP, or plastic #5). These are considered safe plastics to use with foods.

Features of Tupperware

There are many features of Tupperware. It is microwavable for when you are in a hurry for food and have leftovers. Tupperware made after 1979 can be cleaned in the dishwasher, although it is best to wash plastic containers on the top shelf of the dishwasher to avoid damage. You can also hand wash plastic if you are afraid that heat from the dishwasher will destroy your plastic containers.

Durability and Safety

Tupperware food containers.

Unlike glass, it is hard to break Tupperware by dropping it. Tupperware is very durable but can break and become damaged through wear and tear over time and if used carelessly. Most Tupperware has rounded edges so that you and your children will not get cut from it.

The lids, which are made of sturdy plastic as well, are rounded, so they won’t break and can’t hurt or cut you. Tupperware also comes with a lifetime warranty, so if its well cared for the products can last a long time.

Environmental Considerations

Eco Tupper from Tupperware

Plastic is generally considered not an environmentally friendly product. Tupperware claims to be free of BPA products, making it safe for the environment and for people to use long term. Plastic is not biodegradable, so when thrown out just adds to waste that is already found in the environment. Some plastic can be recycled, but only about 14 percent is, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA.

Even though plastic Tupperware is made with material that is safe to use, not all plastics are made alike. Plastic made with #4 or #5 is generally safe to use. Be wary if you have a plastic container with other numbers on it. It’s best to do your research to make sure your plastic is BPA free and safe to use.

Now that you have a good idea of what Tupperware is all about, let’s look at the glass so you can decide for yourself which is the better product to use.

What is Glass?

Empty glassware beside wooden ladles on a wooden desk.

Glass is a hardy, transparent solid that has many uses. Glass is found in windowpanes, containers, vases, artwork, and more.

History of Glass

Mason jars filled with dried cereals, beans, and nuts.

Glass is a much older product than Tupperware and has been used for thousands of years. Natural glass is made from volcanic glass, known as obsidian. Some historians believe the Phoenicians were the first to make manmade glass around 5,000 BC. Based on archeological evidence, the Egyptians and Mesopotamians started making glass around 3500 BC. Glass manufacturing soon became popular in the ancient world.

Jamestown, Virginia was the location of the first glass factory in the United States in 1608. After many modifications, Sir Alastair Pilkington created a new revolutionary float glass production in 1959. 90% of flat glass today is still made this way.

What is Glass Made of?

Glass containers filled with various food.

Glass is made of sand that is heated until it becomes a liquid. Once it is cooled, it can be shaped in any way you like. Glass in ancient times was made by melting soda ash, silica, and lime.

Glass today is manufactured in several ways. Glass containers are made by melting the raw materials, blowing or pouring the glass into container molds, then allowing it to cool with finishing touches to add to its quality.

Features of Glass

There are many features of glass. It can last a long time, is durable and safe to use, and is very environmentally friendly. Many people enjoy using glass over plastic because it is a higher quality material and looks nicer than plastic Tupperware.

Most glass can be heated up in the microwave. Use caution and gloves, since the glass may heat up with the food. Glass is easy to clean and store when not in use.

Durability and Safety

Glass food containers with plastic covers.

Glass is durable, as long as it is not dropped or broken. It is also safe to use. It is much safer to use glass than Tupperware since glass does not interact with chemicals like plastic does. Glass containers are generally heavier than plastic ones, so you need to be careful when carrying and transferring glass containers.

Glass can handle higher temperatures than plastic, so can be cleaned in the dishwasher without fear of it getting damaged over time. Glass can be used longer than plastic, which can save you money.

If a glass container breaks, it needs to be cleaned up. Unfortunately, when glass breaks it usually leaves behind sharp and small pieces which can be harmful if touched. Children should not handle glass because of its potential to break and cause cuts and other damage.

Environmental Considerations

Top view of glass containers filled with vegan food.

If you are an environmental fanatic, glass is the product for you. It is rated GRAS by the United States Food and Drug Administration, also known as the FDA. This rating means that glass is “generally recognized as safe” when it comes to storing food and liquids in it. Unlike plastic, there is no risk of chemicals interacting with food and beverages you may have stored in a glass container.

You can also reuse and recycle glass containers for a longer period of time than plastic, also making it safer and more environmentally friendlier to use.

Is it a Good Idea to Have Both Types of Storage Containers on Hand?

Interior of a fridge filled with various fruits, cherries on a bowl, and various food on plastic storage.

If you enjoy using both glass and Tupperware for storage, then, by all means, use both. I have both Tupperware and glass in my kitchen. Tupperware is mainly used to store leftovers. If we are going to a party and bringing food, I like using our glass containers since they look nicer and are not for everyday use.

For short term use and cool foods, I recommend using plastic. For long term use and to save money and help the environment, use glass containers. You may prefer glass over Tupperware, or vise versa. The choice is up to you. If you want one over the other, do you research before investing in glass or Tupperware.