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Frito-Lay Yanks SunChips’ Compostable Bag To Fix ‘Noise Level’

While Frito-Lay works to develop a next-generation compostable bag, it’s transitioning  most SunChip flavors back to traditional packaging.

SunChips Original snacks will remain in the current 100% compostable package, but packaging for all other SunChips flavors will be changed, Inspired Economist reports.

In addition, once the new package is developed, Frito-Lay plans a slower rollout. The improved compostable bag will be featured in the SunChips Original flavor, allowing Frito-Lay to monitor consumers’ response.

Frito-Lay has bet a lot on its compostable packaging – including a large marketing push. Leaving the original flavor in the compostable bag allows the company to save face, keep some aspects of the marketing campaign in place and avoid a backlash from environmentalists and other stakeholders.

Frito-Lay says the move is aimed at addressing consumers’ feedback about the bag’s noise level. The new bag will also build on the bag’s environmental benefits.

Consumers have compared the SunChips’ bag noise to a “revving motorcycle” and “glass breaking,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

One consumer recorded a 95 decibel level with a RadioShack sound meter, according to the article. In comparison, another Frito-lay brand traditional plastic bag recorded a 77 decibel level.

Brad Rodgers, Frito-Lay’s North American manager of sustainable packaging, told the newspaper the bags are loud due to the new polymers’ higher “glass transition temperature” — when the polymers transition from a harder glasslike state to a rubber state above room temperature. He says the bag gets “kind of crispy and crunchy.”

Boulder Canyon Natural Foods recently released a compostable package for its All Natural Kettle Cooked Potato Chip line.  The 7.5-ounce bag is made from wood pulp sourced from plantations that have Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) or similar certification. The new packaging is currently available at select Whole Foods stores across the United States.

A recent study from Global Industry Analysts indicates that biodegradables represent the fastest growing segment in the packaging industry.

Boulder Canyon says the wood pulp bag “feels” and “sounds” like a traditional paper bag of chips compared to noisier corn starch-based bags.

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15 thoughts on “Frito-Lay Yanks SunChips’ Compostable Bag To Fix ‘Noise Level’

  1. Purchased the Sun Chips noise bag in the summer and knew it was going to be a problem. The folks in the retail outlet said they cant stand it. Too bad the sound wasnt worked out prior to release as now the back peddle and such are going to cost the manufacturer and therefore discourage innovations in packaging. But think people, think. take the time to do it right. Nobody likes backlash.

  2. noise problems with a bag of chips? – seriously???! I buy them and have no problem with the crinkly sound the bags make – I would have turned it into a positive from the start – “We’re making a little noise to help save our environment!”
    Note to folks at Frito-Lay don’t take my earth saving choice away! Even for a day – “fix” it if yo must – don’t switch it back to being bad.

  3. About time! Guess all those letters, emails, etc. are paying off. I personally sat with a brand marketing manager, not Sun Chips, and gave them an ‘earful’ about the noise of the bag. His reply – we know, that however is the sound of environmental responsibility. Get used to it.

    I told him to get used to fewer sales.

    Sales win every time!

    Oh we tried some innovative solutions. The best, though certainly not from an environmental aspect, was to buy the Sun Chips, bring them home, open the bag and promptly place all of the contents in a large, sealable plastic bag.

    Sure, just what all of us Sierra Club zero waste committee members want to do.

    So we stopped buying Sun Chips. Compostable bag and solar power is all nice but we value a little peace and quiet around the table.

  4. this is absurd. i’ve used sun chip’s compostable bags and thought they were great. to all you consumers who complained about the noise level of a chip bag, get a life! rather than taking the time to measure the decibel level of your food packaging why don’t you try using precious moments of your life towards something that you won’t regret on your deathbed. if the biodegradable bag has some negative environmental/ health consequences that’s one thing but for it to be replaced with its wasteful predecessor bc the crinkling noise wasn’t just right is infuriating. grow up america.

  5. Hi all. We are a performance group in central Florida that promotes recycling and we think people who are upset about the noise their chip bag makes need to get over it. ALL chip bags make noise, silly! The fact that Frito-Lay has made a compostable bag is fabulous, and the nay-sayers are dumb to make a big fuss over the crinkly sound. WOW.

  6. At the end of the day sales were DOWN 11%. That is a large price to pay. I hated the noise too. Know what I ended up doing. Taking the bag and dumping it into a gallon zippy. So that really did nothing for the environment.

  7. Everyone’s sales are down. We composted 6 bags this summer in our backyard compostor. What a mistake, buckling to the pressure of whiners in SUVs and trendy white sunglasses.

  8. After 10 years of not buying any chips because I couldn’t find them in packaging that wouldn’t be on the planet for my childrens’ children to deal with, I finally had an option and it’s being pulled because it was LOUD? People write letters about the volume of snack bags? We’ve got mercury in the water, lead in the soil and our soldiers scattered across the globe and people get passionate about snack bags. Give me strength.

  9. Stop complaining about the complainers. In the long run, they’re helping Frito-Lay produce a better product. Come on, consumers rule the landscape. They know that now. I tip my hat to them for pioneering. They just need to make it better next time. Most people aren’t against their efforts to improve the planet. They just want a bag that does that without the noise. Geesh.

  10. Loud…? What a stupid argument for people to complain.
    I agree with certain views I’ve seen across the web. If you dont innovate and risk to place a new product on the market and try to be different than the others out there, then you’ll sink like the rest of the market. If only they could have put it longer on the market. Who cares about lower market share? The shareholders?
    My old boss once told me, bad publicity is publicity! If this product would have sticked around longer, I am sure it would have attracted more media attention (mainly because of people complaining about the noise). There is always a dip in the market when introducing a new product. We can expect a perfect introduction curve like Pepsi or Coca-Cola carbonated breverages. If they would have promoted the product via TV, or any other trendy media, it would recuperate quickly sales, and I would be surprised if the whole state of Vermont and New York would buy this bag.
    Noise is sometimes good.

  11. I LOVE FRITO LAY for making enviro friendly packaging! And I like the way the bags sound. Sounds to me that people are a little too picky.

  12. It is absolutely infuriating that Sun Chips stopped making their compostable bags because people complained the bags were too loud. Are you kidding me?? A major industry progression was halted because consumers are too lazy to put their chips onto a plate. Why do you need to reach your hand in the bag every time anyway? Because our society lacks manners AND foresight? UGH. Disgusted.

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