SunChips introduces world’s first 100% compostable chip bag

Bag was introduced at Earth Day anniversary - full compost possible in 14 weeks

On the eve of Earth Month, the SunChips brand today officially introduces the world’s first 100 percent compostable chip bag at an event in Los Angeles, along with details about a new national consumer education effort to encourage composting and greener lifestyles. The new 100 percent compostable bags are made with plant-based polylactic acid (PLA), a renewable material that also allows the bags to fully compost in approximately 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin. The new compostable bags, which stand as one of the latest sustainability initiatives from PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, will be at full distribution in North America in time for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.

As a part of this introduction, the SunChips brand is launching a national composting education initiative via strategic alliances with the U.S. Composting Council and Earth 911 — two highly respected leaders within the sustainability movement — to promote composting through educational materials, consumer outreach and other awareness-building activities. The goal is to reach more than one million American households directly through this effort.

The brand is also joining forces with Current TV for a unique program that challenges consumers to create videos that encourage positive change in the world and feature the SunChips compostable bag. The winning video will be selected by Current Chairman and co-founder, Al Gore, and is slated to air on national television during Earth Week.

In addition, SunChips has recruited nationally recognized “green lifestyle” expert, Sophie Uliano, as an ambassador for the effort, and also is heavily leveraging SunChips packaging, point-of-sale displays, Web site and social media channels on Facebook and Twitter to encourage composting for a truly comprehensive activation.

“With the launch of the world’s first 100 percent compostable chip bag, SunChips is introducing a first-of-its-kind innovation that builds on our commitment to foster a healthier planet,” said Gannon Jones, vice president, marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “True progress, however, will require not just corporate leadership, but the actions of millions of individuals. We recognize that education and awareness around green behaviors, such as composting, are critical in helping Americans to take their own steps toward a healthier planet, which is why working with organizations such as the U.S. Composting Council, Earth 911 and the Current Network are so important to us.”

To kick off its composting awareness initiative, the SunChips brand is holding a unique, hands-on educational event in Los Angeles today designed to demonstrate how consumers from all walks of life can come together with small steps of their own to create a big difference. To accomplish this, the brand will unveil a 25×40 feet billboard representation of its 100 percent compostable bag, made out of hundreds of compostable tiles. Sophie Uliano, along with hundreds of consumers, will participate in a large-scale composting demonstration that simulates the compostability of the SunChips bag by gradually removing the tiles from the world’s largest “compostable” billboard over the course of an hour. The event will be recorded by the Current Network for a video that will be distributed online as part of the nationwide education campaign.

To make the fully compostable bag, Frito-Lay’s R&D teams spent several years testing different solutions to address the three layers and functions that currently make up snack food packaging:
1. A printed outer layer with packaging visuals/graphics
2. An inner layer which serves as a barrier to maintain the quality and integrity of the product
3. A middle layer that joins the other two layers

Once developed, SunChips worked with Wood’s End, an independent laboratory, to evaluate the performance and certify the compostability of the packaging. Additionally, the bag received third-party certification from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), which is the highest and most rigorous certification process currently available for compostable claims.

The launch of the 100 percent compostable chip bag is just the latest of many steps in the SunChips brand’s sustainability journey.

  • In 2007, a solar concentration field that harnesses the power of the sun to help in the production of SunChips was installed at Frito-Lay’s Modesto, Calif. facility, one of seven plants across the country that make SunChips snacks.
  • In addition, the brand donated $1 million to the city of Greensburg, Kansas in 2008 to support efforts to rebuild the city as an eco-friendly community following a devastating tornado that destroyed the area.
  • And, in 2009, SunChips joined with National Geographic to launch a national grants program (Green Effect) to support consumer led eco-friendly initiatives.

Further information
Earth Day


Biobased News, 2010-03-31.


Current TV
National Geographic
US Composting Council
Woods End® Laboratories, Inc.


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