Biodegradable plastics are plastics that degrade, or break down, upon exposure to: sunlight or ultra-violet radiation, water or dampness, bacteria, enzymes or wind abrasion. In some instances, rodent, pest, or insect attack can also be considered as forms of biodegradation or environmental degradation.
Some modes of degradation require that the plastic be exposed at the surface (aerobic), whereas other modes will only be effective if certain conditions exist in landfill or composting systems (anaerobic).
Some companies produce biodegradable additives, to enhance biodegradation. Plastic can have starch powder added as a filler to allow it to degrade more easily, but this still does not lead to the complete breaking down of the plastic.
Some researchers have genetically engineered bacteria to synthesize completely biodegradable plastics, such as Biopol; however, these are expensive at present.