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Breaking up is hard to do

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A few months back (I like to think before the rest of the world caught on) I wrote in this blog about the new biodegradable packaging for Sun-Chips.

At the time, I said "the new bags for Sun-Chips practically scream out that they are compostable. It's not the large-sized type that says, "World's First 100% Compostable Chip Package" ... it's the actual sound of the package, whether you are opening it or digging into it for some chips, and that sound is REALLY loud."

Sun-Chips (made by Frito-Lay) was aware of the noise their eco-friendly bags made, and explained that their traditional packaging, while extremely efficient (in both cost and performance), was made of multiple layers of polyolefin materials, which are derived from petroleum by-products. The company wanted to find new packaging film, which was more eco-friendly, and they thought they had it with polylactic acid, or polylactide, aka PLA.

Unlike the traditional petroleum-based packaging PLA is made from plants, and the chip bags reportedly would break down on about 14 weeks, the company said.

But the ecologically-friendly packaging came with a price, which customers just could not put up with. The company said, "although this version (of their packaging) is a little bit louder, we hope you'll appreciate the change and the positive environmental impact it will have."

Unfortunately, the only thing louder than the Sun-Chips bags was the reaction of those who thought they just could not deal with the sound of the bags crinkling every time they reached inside for some chips (heaven forbid people should maybe not reach into the chip bags so often, but that's another problem).

After an outcry from offended chip-eaters, including the inevitable Facebook campaign, Sun-Chips has retreated, and will go back to the old, petroleum-based bags for five of its six chip varieties.

It's not as though our nation's dependence on foreign oil would have been lifted by Americans putting up with some noisy chip bags, but at least it was a step in the right direction by Frito-Lay. And those little steps add up, except when you give in and step back. The company does say that they are working on other, quieter, environmentally-friendly bags.

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.



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This page contains a single entry by James Scalzitti published on October 6, 2010 7:52 PM.

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