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Frito Lay dropping some PLA chip bags after noise complaints

Snack eaters have voted with their ears, and the result is bad news for Frito Lay’s push towards ...


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October 8, 2010 by Canadian Plastics

Snack eaters have voted with their ears, and the result is bad news for Frito Lay’s push towards bio-based plastics packaging.

The snack maker is reverting to the original non-biodegradable material for five of its six SunChips brand bags after consumer feedback indicated its new 100 per cent plant-based polylactic acid (PLA) packaging was too noisy.

Despite having been selected as one of the most innovative new products of the past year by market research organization Mintel during this summer’s IFT food expo in Chicago, sales results declined for the crisp brand in the 18 months since the introduction of the environmentally friendly bag, which was said to biodegrade in as little as 14 weeks.

Nearly 40,000 people signed up to a Facebook group criticizing the PLA packaging material for being too loud. (If you’re curious, the page can be seen here.)

According to Frito Lay, the new bags will continue to be used for the original flavour of SunChips and that the five other flavours will be back to the old packaging by the end of this month.

Frito Lay’s PLA venture represented a move into uncharted territory for the bio-material. Until recently, the adoption of PLA had been restricted to the packaging of chilled food and beverages due to its tendency to deform at 55°C and above. But polymer additive suppliers such as DuPont have been developing products with the aim of toughening PLA packaging materials as well as improving their processibility and flexibility in rigid structures.