Polyethylene materials are a serious environmental concern as their nondegradable nature allows them to persist in the environment. Recent studies have shown that polyethylene can be degraded by microbes at a very slow rate, whereby detectable changes are evident after several years. In the present study, we report the degradation of low-density polyethylene by Pseudomonas sp. AKS2. Unlike the previous reports, degradation by Pseudomonas sp. AKS2 is relatively fast as it can degrade 5 ± 1 % of the starting material in 45 days without prior oxidation. This degradation can be altered by agents that modulate hydrophobic interaction between polythene and the microbe. As mineral oil promotes hydrophobic interactions, it enhances bacterial attachment to the polymer surface. This enhanced attachment results in increased biofilm formation and enhanced polymer degradation. In contrast, Tween 80 reduces bacterial attachment to the polymer surface by lowering hydrophobic interactions and thereby reduces polymer degradation. Thus, this study establishes a correlation between hydrophobic interaction and polymer degradation and also relates the biofilm formation ability of bacteria to polymer degrading potential. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.