The incorporation of a chemical catalyst into polyethylene (PE) causes fragmentation of the plastics’ polymer chains generally triggered by UV irradiation or heat exposure. It allows the plastic to break down in thin particles quicker than standard plastic, and thus eliminates the visual pollution quickly. It is assumed that the breakdown products will eventually biodegrade.
Oxo-degradable plastics are not biodegradable, nor compostable, because it is not proved yet that they will completely decompose within a reasonably short period of time under customary methods of disposal. They are not suitable for recycling with main-stream plastics as they have an adverse effect on the quality and usability of the finished recycled product.
We discourage the use of additives intended to photo-degrade, oxo-degrade, or claim by other methods to degrade otherwise non-biodegradable plastics. Use of these additives can cause fragmentation into microplastics in the environment.