SunChips’ Compostable Bag Not So Compostable? [Updated]

SunChips compostable bag


 We were more than a little excited when SunChips announced a plan earlier this year to roll out the world’s first 100% compostable chip bag. A bag that breaks down entirely after 14 weeks in a compost bin? It has to be the beginning of some sort of packaging revolution, we thought. But maybe not.

Over at the anotherkindofdrew blog, Drew Odom has been documenting the SunChips bag compost process. So far, the experiment isn’t going as smoothly as Frito-Lay might like. After three weeks, the bag looks pretty much the same as it looked at the beginning of Drew’s experiment. And it hardly matches up to what SunChips predicts for the three week mark (see video below).

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Frito-Lay is lying–after all, that would be an incredibly poor marketing choice. But the 14-week claim might be a bit too ambitious.  Stay tuned–we’ll keep tracking Drew’s experiment until the 14-week day of reckoning.

Update: Chris Kuechenmeister, Frito-Lay’s Director of Public
Relations, tells us that the problem stems from the fact that Drew
didn’t create a hot enough compost environment. Instead of following
Frito-Lay’s directions to put the bag in a hot, active compost bin, he
stuck the bag in the ground. “He’s probably not getting enough heat
there,” Kuechenmeister explains. “During the development of the bag, we
did some outside tests like that to see
what would happen. The reality is that if you don’t get a hot enough
it could take much longer to break down.”


About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more