Those biodegradable SunChips bags we wrote about in March take about 14 months to fully decompose. And apparently that's about the shelf life for Frito-Lay's green initiative as well.
Frito-Lay, one of our Most Innovative Companies and the taste experts behind Tangy Carolina BBQ potato chips, was heralded for becoming a sustainable purveyor of snacks last year after introducing a 100% compostable SunChips package. Now the company is quietly putting an end to the program. Why? It wasn't worth the noise.
The bags were fully biodegradable (or were they?) and could have kick-started a trend in eco-friendly food retailing. But the molecular structure of the packaging made the bag incredibly noisy--louder than even a jet cockpit. Complaints poured in to Frito-Lay over the noise, according to USA Today. And a Facebook group called "Sorry But I Can't Hear You Over This SunChips Bag" currently has more than 44,000 friends.
While many are willing to put up with minor annoyances for the sake of the environment (see: quality of early Seventh Generation products), it looks like Frito-Lay reached a breaking point. Over the past 52 weeks, sales of SunChips declined more than 11%.
Now, Frito-Lay has reverted back to its older, non-green packaging for most of the SunChips line (Original SunChips will keep the noisy bag). The company is currently working on developing a recyclable material that is, well, quieter.