Chips get new, quieter compostable bag

    Last spring, snack company Frito-Lay switched to a 100-percent compostable bag for its SunChips. So many people complained about how noisy the more rigid, plant-based material was than traditional petroleum-based bags, the company rolled back production last fall. Its packaging engineers went back to the drawing board, and the company is now launching a quieter version of the compostable bag.

    Brandon Rivera, a cashier at a Kmart in Center City, said he has noticed a difference between the old compostable version of the bag and a bag of regular potato chips, especially when he’s bagging them at the same time.

    “The bags sound different,” Rivera said. “One of sounds like paper or plastic and one of them feels like aluminum foil or something.”

    Enough customers complained about the noise that Brad Rodgers, manager of sustainable packaging for PepsiCo, which owns Frito-Lay, said his team spent about six months trying to develop a compostable bag without the annoying side effects. In the end, they found that changing the composition of the adhesive that sticks the two layers of the bag together made a surprisingly big difference, lowering the noise the bag makes 10 to 15 decibels.

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    The adhesive between the inner and outer layer acts as a cushion to dampen the sound of the waves as they move from one layer to another, Rodgers said.

    “We were a bit surprised,” Rodgers said. “The fact that you can change that one component and get this dramatic of an effect was a bit surprising.”

    Chips in the new bags began being shipped across the country last week.

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