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First 100% Compostable Chip Bags to Hit Shelves Soon

Posted By Bridgette Meinhold On March 18, 2010 @ 5:00 pm In Green Graphics & Packaging,Innovation | 8 Comments

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Frito-Lay has been working for a year now on developing and testing a biodegradable bag [2] 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 [3] 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.

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The new chip bag material is made from PLA (polylactic acid), a corn-based polymer made by NatureWorks [4], who claims [5] the material is the “world’s first and only performance plastic made from 100% annually renewable resources.” The Biodegradable Products Institute [6] 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 [7], 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 [8] 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 [9], and curbside pickup is typically limited to Western metropolises like the Bay Area [7] 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 [10]

Via New York Times [8]

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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/first-100-compostable-chip-bags-to-hit-shelves-soon/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/03/18/first-100-compostable-chip-bags-to-hit-shelves-soon/compostable-chip-bag-1/

[2] biodegradable bag: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/03/18/student-designs-biodegradable-packaging-for-mcdonalds/

[3] backyard compost pile: http://www.inhabitat.com/2010/02/19/new-research-reveals-sugar-based-plastics-could-be-composted-at-home/

[4] NatureWorks: http://www.natureworksllc.com

[5] claims: http://www.sunchips.com/resources/pdf/SunChips_Stepsweretaking.pdf

[6] Biodegradable Products Institute: http://www.bpiworld.org/

[7] commercial composter: http://www.inhabitat.com/2009/10/22/san-francisco-implements-nations-first-mandatory-composting-law/

[8] Kate Galbraith: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/a-compostable-chips-bag-hits-the-shelves/

[9] Few Americans compost in their backyards: http://www.greenrightnow.com/connect2utah/2009/10/13/harris-poll-finds-many-americans-are-actively-green-others-have-not-signed-up/

[10] + Sun Chips: http://www.sunchips.com/healthier_planet.shtml?s=content_compostable_packaging

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