Skip to content

Goodbye, Mr Sun Chips Compostable Bag

Last week, Frito-Lay announced rather quietly that the company is discontinuing the use of their compostable packaging on all but one of their SunChips flavors. Frito-Lay had launched the biodegradable bag about a year and a half ago, with a lot of fanfare and promotion. The fully-compostable material in the bag was said to break down in about 14 weeks.

I first assumed that the reason Frito-Lay would stop using the bags might have something to do with the failure to decompose in a timely manner. It turns out, however, that consumers complained about the noise. The unusual material of the bags makes them very rigid and pretty loud. In addition, SunChips sales have declined by 11% in the last 52 weeks. Our household’s increased interest in SunChips wasn’t enough to counter that trend.

As gardeners, we’re big fan of composting so I watched for the compostable bags to appear in the grocery store. After we took care of the chips inside, we put the bag in our compost bin around March 24. In late June after about 12 weeks, the compostable bag had definitely changed, but it was still there. In October, which would be close to 26 weeks, I moved the bag from that compost bin to the compost tumbler, which tends to be hotter and break materials down more quickly. I’ll continue to monitor the decomposition process.

Although I’m not giving up on the SunChips compostable bag yet, I’ve had better luck with other compost experiments. I’ve successfully composted an old straw hat, an old hemp shower curtain, and an old denim shirt (without the buttons, of course). I have a very worn out leather wallet of Jim’s that will be part of my next wave of compost experiments.

I’m disappointed that consumers didn’t embrace the SunChip compostable bag more enthusiastically. A little noise with a compostable bag seems a small sacrifice when compared to a quieter plastic bag that will linger in a landfill for generations. Much of what we buy – both the products and the packaging—moves through our lives with little thought, but those items or packages don’t disappear when they are no longer in our homes. The noise served as a little reminder of the convenience we take for granted.

Posted in • Growing.

Tagged with .