Sunchips to Ditch Noisy Bags

When new acquaintances find out that I’m interest in bioplastics and their applications, I’m often asked about what I think of the Sunchips bag.

While I think the innovation is fantastic and a step in the right direction, I guess too many consumers did not appreciate the change.

Sunchip BagIn exchange for being compostable in a backyard setting, the PLA bags were loud. Far too loud for some consumers. I was told by one friend that he couldn’t eat them anymore because he couldn’t sneak them after dinner. The crinkling sound alerted the whole household that he was cheating on his diet.

Another issue encountered was that municipalities with compost facilities were not always accepting of the material because the compostability time was longer than the compost heap’s turnover time.

As reported by yesterday, Sunchips has decided to revert most of the Sunchips flavors back to their original non-biodegradable packaging. Business managers claim that this is being done in parallel with investigations into the next generation of compostable/biodegradable packaging.

A representative from Sunchip’s parent company, Frito-Lay e-mailed Heidi Tolliver-Nigro of The Inspired Economist stating:

While Frito-Lay works to develop a next-generation compostable package, SunChips Original snacks will remain in the current 100% compostable package, while the other SunChips flavors will be transitioned back to their traditional packaging. Once the improved compostable bag is ready, it will be featured in the SunChips Original flavor, allowing Frito-Lay to monitor consumers’ response.

As with many leading-edge technologies, there is an ongoing process of improvement and refinement. We are confident the approach we are taking will allow us to continue our sustainability progress, while also showing our consumers that we are committed to responding to their needs and preferences.

I for one am a little disappointed with the customer intolerance to the noise level. Packaging changes are expensive and there must have been a great deal of backlash for Frito Lay to pull back their packaging so quickly after introduction.

Treehugger’s article on the news goes into a discussion about how loud the bag would have to be to disrupt conversation. The conclusion: certainly not loud enough to do anyone any harm.

My favorite blog title about this hot topic is the New York Times Environment blog’s Snacklash: Junking the virtuous bag.

Do you have any opinions on the change back to traditional packaging?


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