This month, the SunChips brand is taking the first step towards this transformational packaging. The outer layer of packaging on 10.5 oz size SunChips snack bags will be made with a compostable, plant-based renewable material, polylactic acid (PLA). By Earth Day 2010, PepsiCo's Frito-Lay North America division plans to rollout a package for its SunChips snacks where all layers are made from PLA material so the package is 100 percent compostable.
“We know environmentally-friendly packaging is a priority for our SunChips consumer,” says Gannon Jones, vice president, marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “Today’s launch of packaging made with one-third renewable materials is an important first step towards having a fully compostable chip bag in market by Earth Day 2010.”
Current snack food packaging has three layers: a printed outer layer with packaging visuals/graphics, an inner layer, which serves as a barrier to maintain the quality and integrity of the product, and a middle layer that joins the other two layers. When the packaging is 100 percent compostable, it will fully decompose in about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost pile or bin. NatureWorks LLC is providing the PLA, which is trademarked under the Ingeo name.
“Packaging is clearly the most visible interaction consumers have with Frito-Lay’s brands,” says Jay Gehring, vice president, packaging R&D, Frito-Lay North America. “To make packaging that would interact differently in the environment, we had to change the composition of packaging and invent key technologies. Using plant-based renewable materials, we have a promising solution that will transform packaging and significantly impact the billions of snack food bags produced annually.”
Once the 100 percent compostable bag is introduced, the company anticipates the switch will lead to reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the production of the packaging and the elimination of petroleum-based packaging material.
Over the past few years, Frito-Lay’s packaging initiatives have made some significant strides. This includes reducing the amount of plastic in packaging by 10 percent over the last five years, and thereby eliminating 12 million pounds of materials annually used to make the snack bags. In addition, Frito-Lay will be the first snack food company to fund the collection and upcycling of its used packaging through a program in conjunction with TerraCycle.
To inform consumers about the new packaging initiatives, the brand will be communicating through traditional marketing efforts, including print, TV, and digital advertising. As part of the current packaging change, the front panel of the current 10.5 oz size SunChips package features a callout, “Renewable materials make up 33 percent of this bag.” To communicate the next improvement, the digital strategy includes a video showing how the bag decomposes over 14 weeks. Also, samples of the 100 percent compostable material will be distributed at major retailers across the country and as part of a special People magazine ad.