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Polystyrene is a composite plastic material manufactured using a synthetic polymer. This material is relatively light with a low density as well as low melting point. There are ample amounts of air trapped in polystyrene which means that they can be slightly compressed and presents as a poor barrier for moisture or air.

In the packaging industry, polystyrene is cup up into small pieces (chips) and packed into boxes to fill the void space. This is to prevent the item inside the box is not damaged by rough handling. These chips are able to prevent the item from hitting the side of the box. Additionally, they can absorb reasonable amount of shock and vibrations.

The first polystyrene packaging chips were first manufactured and made commercially available by Dow Chemical in 1965. Those were made with 100% virgin polystyrene. However, due to environmental reasons, some of the chips are now being made by 70% recycled polystyrene since the 90s.

The biggest advantage of these chips are that they can fit around irregular objects in the box, as compared to other protective packaging that have to be regularly shaped. Furthermore, these chips can be used for protective packaging multiple times without sustaining damage or reducing its ability to absorb shock.