Sun Chips Bag-07-28-10

Compostable? Sun Chips Bag

Back at the beginning of May (i.e. nearly three months ago) I buried a “compostable” Sun Chips bag in my big wooden worm bin (see “Sun Chip Bag Vermicomposting“). I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I guess I DID at least expect to see some decomposition within a few months!

I was recently digging around in the lower reaches of my bin (after much of the material had been removed for worm harvesting) when I happened upon the bright orange package. It looked almost exactly the same as it did when I unearthed it the first time, back at the end of May (see “Sun Chips Bag-05-21-10“). The only real difference seemed to be a greater tendency for the bag to tear.

So yeah – basically, it looks as though a Sun Chips bag could potentially last for many months (maybe years) in a mesophilic (moderate temperature) composting system. Kinda makes me wish I had a hot pile to toss it into. Now I’m curious to know if it even lives up to the claims on the package!

I ended up tossing the bag in one of my regular backyard composters just for the sake of getting it out of my sight! (haha)
Don’t be surprised if you see some future updates many months/years from now, when I once again find the bag completely intact!

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    • Barb V.
    • July 28, 2010

    I started my experiment May 20 [cutting the bag into pieces and rinsing well]… as of yesterday, the pieces look nearly good as new … with a bit of ‘cast’ deposited on them, not so shiny, and don’t ‘crackle’ when bent. I suspect there is more hype than truth in the composting claims.

    • Ted
    • July 28, 2010

    Hi Bentley,
    I don’t know if Canada’s trash is sent to a furnace or not, but if so, I’m sure after those bio bags have been turned to liquid ash, it will stay ash and not clump up like plastic bottles and such. Just guessing though. Have a great one

    • LARRY D.
    • July 28, 2010

    I collect bottles from the 18oo’s.I dig around where they used to bury trash in thier yards because they didn’t really have a garbage service back then.
    I got the feeling a hundred years from now people will be digging up and collecting sunchip bags.And they’ll be talking about it on something way more advanced than the internet.
    Has any body tried composting the sun chips? Maybe that’s what they were talking about!

    • Darci
    • July 29, 2010

    I am composting a Sun Chips bag as well, but mine is in the backyard composter. It looks a bit more dull than when I originally deposited it. As agreed upon, I too think it will take years for it to break-down.

  1. After about 10 weeks, I decided that my Sunchip bag was impeading on the air and water flow. There was not a single sign of decomposition.
    I put it in my container that I set on the curb once a week.
    Clever marketing.

    • Bob T.
    • July 29, 2010

    I believe the Sun Chip bags are made out of PLA or a similar plastic. PLA does biodegrade, but the process requires temperatures of 60C (140F). So it will work in a full scale composting setup, but those are a lot hotter than the temperates in a vermicomposting system, or even the majority of most backyard composting. So unfortunately, we can’t just toss the bags in our bins yet.

    • John in Huntington Beach
    • July 29, 2010

    A Google search finds the following response from Frito-Lay from a customer who wrote them complaining the bag was too loud. (I’ll take one for the team and toss a bag into my 120-140 degree F compost pile and see if I can find it in 14 weeks )

    One of the problems with this type of material is that if it is tossed into a plastic recycling bin, it can contaminate and render unrecyclable a batch of other wise recyclable polymer waste if not detected in time.

    Thank you for contacting Frito-Lay about our new SunChips package. Iโ€™m mailing you a coupon which should arrive in about a week.

    We are breaking new ground with packaging made from renewable plant-based materials. Itโ€™s designed to fully decompose in about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin or pile.

    Yes, it is noisier than our current packaging. We like to think of the noise as โ€œthe sound of sustainability.โ€ You eat the chips, the earth eats the bag and we all live in a cleaner world. For more information about the compostable package and our healthier planet initiatives, please visit

    Your comments are important and please know they will be shared with our packaging and marketing teams. We consider you a valued consumer and hope you will continue to enjoy snacks from Frito-Lay.

    Best regards,

    Frito-Lay Consumer Affairs

    • Jillian
    • July 29, 2010

    Sounds like more hype and talk than actual sustainability. The majority of people don’t hot compost anymore, and those that do are less likely to buy a lot of chips.

    • Steve K
    • August 2, 2010

    What a bummer! Maybe these bages can instead be used to make a cheapo, loud, miniature version of the Worm Inn…?

    • Ted
    • August 6, 2010

    Why not make chip bags out of 50% recycled paper? Line the inside of the paper bag with this fake plastic to keep the air and freshness in. Whatever the break down time is now, will be cut in half.

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