Gallery: First 100% Compostable Chip Bags to Hit Shelves Soon


Frito-Lay has been working for a year now on developing and testing a biodegradable bag that will completely break down in an ordinary compost pile. The corn-based polymer chip bags are set to hit store shelves soon and can be expected to biodegrade in a backyard compost pile within 14 weeks. Right now, Frito-Lay is only rolling out the new bags under their Sun Chip brand, so don’t try throwing your Doritos bag into your compost bin — you’ll only have to fish it out later.

The new chip bag material is made from PLA (polylactic acid), a corn-based polymer made by NatureWorks, who claims the material is the “world’s first and only performance plastic made from 100% annually renewable resources.” The Biodegradable Products Institute has also certified that the bag meets its biodegradable standards for sustainable packaging, and starting in May, the B.P.I logo will be included on the package. Frito-Lay has determined through testing that under typical backyard composting conditions, the bag will decompose at the same rate as the rest of the compost — around 12-16 weeks. If the bag makes it to a commercial composter, it will take about the same time to decompose.

The big question, however, is whether the new bags will actually end up in the compost heap. As Kate Galbraith of the NY Times says, “Whether many of the bags will actually make it into the compost heap, of course, seems doubtful. Few Americans compost in their backyards, and curbside pickup is typically limited to Western metropolises like the Bay Area and Seattle.” It’s likely that most of these bags will still end up in the landfill, and according to Frito-Lay’s own testing, the new bag will not decompose under the anaerobic conditions of a typical landfill. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, and those conscious composters who eat Sun Chips can merrily toss the chip bag into their compost pile.

+ Sun Chips

Via New York Times


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  1. Compostable Packaging T... August 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    […] I’ve heard mixed messages about the compostability of packaging labelled biodegradable, I figured the only way to figure out what works and what doesn’t is to stop listening to […]

  2. Erin March 23, 2010 at 11:42 am

    The company is also reaching out to the Earth Day Sustainability Fair at my university and will be coming out to introduce the bag, show how it composts, inform students about how they can compost, and also provide a warning about the loud noises it makes!

  3. Teun March 22, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Is this really the first 100% biodegradable bag…:

  4. dianesmith5 March 20, 2010 at 3:55 am

    So I hope you will be expanding this new packaging in as many areas as possible such as garbage bags used in most every home, grocery bags, etc., etc. The time is right……way past due!

  5. rhombus March 19, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Found them here in Seattle, a friend bought them and threw the bag in the garbage but I caught it and put it into the city compost bin. I can confirm the crinkle is deafening.

  6. hawkns March 18, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Yeah, they are already on the shelves. Saw them at the local {shudder} Wal-Mart about a month ago.

  7. nconantj March 18, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Cool, yet for me it’s rather old news. I work at a convience store on a college campus in the Rochester, NY area. SunChips have been in these bags for at least a month or more. BTW, you’ll KNOW when you have one… they are FAR louder than a traditional bag.

  8. schleifnet March 18, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    saw these on the shelf at target in metairie, la last night, just wonder if they cost more

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