SunChips Packaging to be 100% Compostable by Earth Day 2010


SunFrito-Lay’s SunChips (owned by PepsiCo) brand is in the process of converting its packaging to 100% compostable packaging made from corn-based Ingeo PLA.

The company has already converted one element of its current 10.5 oz SunChips snack bags packaging to PLA and has set the goal of converting its full bag packaging to being completely compostable by Earth Day 2010.

A move that would represent the first major green packaging conversion of a mainstream brand US food product to compostable packaging.

“We know environmentally-friendly packaging is a priority for our SunChips consumer,” said Gannon Jones, vice president, marketing, Frito-Lay North America.

“Today’s launch of packaging made with 1/3 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% 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.

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 ½ oz size SunChips package features a callout, “Renewable materials make up 33% 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% compostable material will be distributed at major retailers across the country and as part of a special People magazine ad.

To get their message out Frito-Lay has hired some of the country’s best firms including Ketchum and OMD.

The SunChips website already has a whole section devoted to the new compostable bag packaging with a substantial amount of information and well done media elements.

I have to say I am impressed with the detail of the campaign thus far.  Normally the type of material Frito-Lay is making available to everyone is only available to media or press outlets working on stories.  I like how the company is making information about their packaging conversion available as well as making the process educational for consumers.