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Pepsi’s Potato Packaging: Will It Peel?

Sustainable chip packaging is a risky thing — just ask Sun Chips, which junked its high-decibel compostable bag after poor sales. But PepsiCo isn’t giving up on the category.

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Sustainable chip packaging is a risky thing. Frito-Lay learned the hard way; the company’s much-heralded compostable Sun Chips bags were nixed this month because of concerns about noise (those concerns led to a 11% decrease in sales since its launch in March). But parent company PepsiCo isn’t giving up–at least in the U.K., where the company plans to turn peelings from potatoes used to make Walkers potato chips into chip bags.

PepsiCo U.K. has already developed chip bags made out of wood pulp cellulose sourced from Forest Stewardship Council forests, according to Food Production Daily. But those bags ran into the Sun Chips quandary–they’re loud and crackly enough to turn off consumers.

Instead of releasing the wood pulp bags in the wild, PepsiCo decided to scrap the idea and try potato chip skins instead. The skins would normally be turned into animal feed, but PepsiCo thinks this is a more sustainable use. If the potato skin bags turn out to be quieter than the wood pulp variety, they could be on store shelves in the U.K. in the next 18 to 24 months–starting with Walker’s smaller brands.

Now all PepsiCo has to do is tell us whether the potato skin bags are completely biodegradable — the company’s literature doesn’t say, and we’re awaiting a response. If so, it might be able to redeem Frito-Lay’s Sun Chips blunder. 

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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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

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