Sun Chips Compostable Bag

sun chips compostable bagI just happened to see an amazing thing last night on television, a (seemingly) plastic snack-chip bag biodegrade in a time lapse in 12 weeks. Impossible! Or is it?
NatureWorks has developed a compostable bag for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Division, the makers of SunChips. As with many claims of length of time to biodegrade, it is usually very dependent on the environment it is placed in.

This fully biodegradable bag is said to be able to decompose over 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin or pile—at home or at an industrial composting site.

Unlike most biodegradable plastics which just break down into smaller pieces, but remain in the environment as small bits of plastic, these are made from a biopolymer resin made extracted from plant sugar called polylactic acid (PLA). PLA is made from lactic acid which in turn is made from dextrose by fermentation. Dextrose is made from starch and starch is made from carbon dioxide and water. It is said to also lower the impact on greenhouse gasses when compared to plastics due to the fact that it’s made with plants that grow annually instead of petroleum (which takes millions of years to form).

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Set to release on Earth Day 2010, I look forward to this big step towards sustainability and look forward to proving it’s claims in my own backyard compost pile.

Comments 14

  1. My roommate Ata got these last week (Doritos-like flavor) just because of the packaging. Its definitely a unique texture and crinkle sound. Great idea. Good product too. Hadn’t had them since I was a kid.

  2. Post

    Ha, that’s an interesting one, buying it just to see what the bag is like 😉 – I wonder if this will actually work out for them by actually increasing sales to those interested strictly in the bag?

  3. I am confused with Sun Chips explanation on their website. It says that only part of the bag is made up of the biopolymer resin. What does this mean? The rest of the bag is made up of the usual materials. Is this something we really want to put in a compost that will be used for gardens and organic crops?

    1. Post

      I think you are correct Pam, cheers! Unless this is a specially developed compound using the same PLA acronym, then it is polylactic acid. Looks like they got it wrong on their press release.

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  6. The noise made by the Sun Chips biodegradable bag is reminiscent of a fingernail scratching on the blachboard when i was a child. I will no longer buy them, because I can’t stand the sound of the bag when handled.

  7. Between people not buying them because of the horrible noise they make and the fact that more people are littering to see if it really works, I have come to the conclusion the bag has had no real effect on the enviornment.

  8. I was interested in testing out the new compostable SunChips bag….it has been about 10 weeks in my very hot backyard compost tumbler. I regularly add kitchen scraps and yard waste and everything has biodegraded EXCEPT for the chips bag. Not sure if the marketing claim holds any truth….

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  10. Just wanted to let you know, the Sun Chips bags I placed in my compost last Summer are still in pristine condition, and still way too noisy.

  11. Post

    Interesting… I am thinking that this bag must require some specialized composting, more like the industrial composting offered in a lot of places (including my city of Seattle). Kind of unfortunate, but it is a start at least!

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