Polystyrene (PS) plastic is a naturally transparent thermoplastic that is available as both a typical solid plastic and in the form of a rigid foam material. As a hard and solid plastic, it is often used in products that require clarity, such as food packaging and laboratory ware. When combined with various colorants, additives or other plastics, polystyrene is used to make appliances, electronics, automobile parts, toys, gardening pots and equipment and more.
Polystyrene when made into a foam material as expanded polystyrene (EPS) or extruded polystyrene (XPS), is valued for its insulating and cushioning properties. Foam polystyrene can be more than 95 percent air and is widely used to make home and appliance insulation, lightweight protective packaging, surfboards, foodservice and food packaging, automobile parts, roadway and road bank stabilization systems and more.
Polystyrene is made by stringing together, or polymerizing, styrene, a building-block chemical used in the manufacture of many products. Styrene also occurs naturally in foods such as strawberries, cinnamon, coffee and beef.