Recently, Frito-Lay pulled its biodegradable SunChips packaging from store shelves less than a year after its debut. Not because the bag’s composting abilities were questionable, but because people complained that they were too noisy. Seriously. The complaints sent the company back to the drawing board, and they announced yesterday that they’ve created a new plant-based bag that won’t hurt your ears.

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Photo credit: Alan Levine

Last spring, Frito-Lay began packaging its SunChips in biodegradable bags that were expected to completely breakdown in a backyard compost pile in two weeks. Inhabitat and many others applauded the move toward greener packaging, but consumers compared the noise made by the bag to everything from glass breaking to lawnmowers to jet engines. Customers disliked the packaging so much that SunChips sales declined 11 percent in the past year.

The bags’ noise was due to its unusual molecular structure which made them more rigid. Frito-Lay says they’ve solved the problem by using a more rubbery adhesive to put the two layers of the bag together and create a sound barrier. The razor-thin layer of adhesive reduced the bags’ sound to about 70 decibels – about the same as other chip bags and the original SunChips bags. The first compostable design registered around 80 to 85 decibels. You can compare the sound of the two bags in a new marketing video on the SunChips website.

Initially, the snack company will use the bags only for SunChips Originals, now in stores, to assess customer reaction before deciding to use the bag for more packaging.


While it’s ridiculous that something as trivial as a noisy bag stopped people from purchasing a greener product, it’s not surprising. People want smart design that won’t disrupt what they know to be the norm, which is why we’re glad to see that SunChips worked to create new green packaging instead of just reverting back to un-recyclable bags. We just hope they also improved the bag’s ability to compost.

+ SunChips

Via Environmental Leader