SunChips Pushes its Environmental Cred with Compostable Chip Bag

The familiar sight of plastic chip bags littering the ground could soon be a thing of the past if companies follow multigrain chip brand SunChips’ lead. SunChips rolled out a serious Earth Day initiative earlier this month–compostable chip bags. No, really. The bag will crumble in the dirt after only 14 weeks.
The new SunChip bag’s outer layer will be made with polyactic acid (PLA), a compostable, plant based renewable material. By Earth Day 2010, all North American Sunchips bags will feature the new 100% compostable packaging. SunChips’ switch is expected to cut greenhouse emissions significantly and eliminate the use of petroleum in packaging

Don’t think that Frito-Lay and Sunchips are shunning the spotlight with this initiative, either. Frito-Lay is pushing the new chip bag with a YouTube video that has garnered nearly 165,000 views, along with an insert of a real compostable bag in People magazine. SunChips is also pushing its environmental cred by sponsoring National Geographic’s The Green Effect initiative, which will give five people or groups $20,000 for their innovative green ideas.
Heavy promotion for SunChips’ new bag makes sense–it’s a real step forward for the snack industry–but why isn’t Frito Lay also using the bag in, say, Cheetos? Frito Lay officials told USA Today that it wasn’t easy to create a bag that both maintains product integrity and disintegrates into the ground. I assume that means they spent a good amount of cash on research, but now that the technology is ready, why not use it for other Frito Lay chip brands? Is it more expensive to produce? I imagine that the same crowd that purchases Frito Lay favorites like Kettle Chips, Stacy’s pita chips, and Flat Earth veggie chips would also be willing to shell out a bit extra for compostable packaging. Frito Lay wants to patent its new technology, and it seems like a shame to keep it relegated to Sun Chips.
[Via Champion Media]

5 responses

  1. Soooo people will just toss the bag on the ground? Or it will go inside a plastic trash bag like all the other trash and miraculously disintegrate? Uh, I don’t either is a viable option. So the bigger question is, is Frito-Lay leading the national fight for commercial composting?

  2. Appreciate the positive response to our efforts in packaging. Lots of good questions — hope this helps…
    As you read in the USA Today article, the top layer of the 10.5 oz SunChips bags is made with PLA. While we believe we have identified solutions to make the entire bag 100% compostable, given the important role the two other layers play, we continue to refine and test the materials before we rollout it. It’s about ensuring quality and the integrity of the product our consumers expect of us.
    We would love to rollout the new packaging across Frito-Lay brands. However we are limited by the availability of PLA packaging. We are working with the supplier; when there is full manufacturing scale and capacity, we anticipate using this packaging across our family of brands.
    The most effective way for the bag to decompose is in hot, active composting bin. It can be done in a home composting bin.
    In different environments the packaging will behave differently. The packaging will breakdown on the ground but not as efficiently as it would in a compost pile or bin, and the breakdown will depend on the environmental conditions.
    Again hope that helps.
    Aurora Gonzalez
    Frito-Lay North America

  3. I am living In upstate New York and Am Start
    ing a new Potato chip Idea I was wondering if you were interested in starting up a new chip idea and supply the bags starting new jobs here one hour North of Albany NY

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