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Home » Sticker Blog » Vinyl or Polypropylene Stickers? A demystification.

Vinyl or Polypropylene Stickers? A demystification.


Vinyl and polypropylene (PP) are popular materials for stickers, with vinyl being hard-wearing and a great choice for extreme environments and polypropylene a cost-effective synthetic material, making it ideal for fast-moving consumer goods. This article addresses the relative benefits of each and exposes the pitfalls of incorrectly specifying a sticker.

Polypropylene Vs Vinyl Stickers

Stickers made with vinyl and polypropylene differ in terms of application, durability, and desired aesthetic. Whilst polypropylene offers good ripping resistance and splash resistance compared to a paper label, vinyl goes a lot further, delivering excellent longevity by enduring the degrading effect of both water an UV rays, making it a compelling choice for long term and exterior applications.

Another benefit of vinyl is the way in interacts with the adhesive layer. Vinyl and glue are a match made in heaven. With vinyl, adhesives will seldom transfer to the object to which it is applied, ensuring clean removability. Unlike paper labels, polypropylene can usually be removed without the surface layer fragmenting. However, high energy surfaces (such as glass and metal) will usually attract the glue away from the sticker often resulting in a liberal amount of unwanted residue on the target surface after removal.

But not all vinyl is created equally. Some are intended for short-term promotional items, some have an intermediate 3-year exterior lifespan, and, at the most expensive end, ten-year and twelve-year vinyl is available for buildings, shops and vehicle signage requiring an extra-long lifespan. Additionally, both PP and vinyl stickers can be laminated to protect against rubbing, scratching and aid hand application.

In terms of recyclability, labels tend not to interfere with the recycling process hence many local authorities do not specify that they should be removed from recyclable waste. However, in new product development, it is advisable to match the material of the label to that of the package to aid recyclability. For full biodegradability, neither PP nor vinyl are compostable. However, exciting new developments like Natureflex, made from wood pulp, bring this property to filmic stickers.

In summary

So, to summarise, polypropylene label stock is a great choice for bulk users. They offer cost-effective unit prices ex. milk bottle labels, food labelling and many disposable plastic items. Whereas vinyl is the ideal choice for stickers that have a higher specification. Think give-away bumper stickers, window stickers and all other outdoor uses or applications. This is also the right option where clean removability is paramount.

At Edge Stickers, we see many customers who come to us with stories consistent incorrectly specified stickers. Usually, along the lines of “My stickers have faded”, “The material was fine at first but cracked over time” or “The product was covered in glue when we removed the sticker”. These comments are all consistent with specifying polypropylene where vinyl is required.

Conversely, if a vinyl sticker is specified where polypropylene is adequate, then the user is likely paying too much. However, this does not apply to small orders. The cost here is largely comprised of administrative, pre-press and machine set-up expenses.

To avoid any of these common issues and get your print specification right, talk to us about your requirements today.