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100% compostable bag debuts for SunChips

Making good its promise to convert its one-third PLA bag to a 100% compostable version by Earth Day 2010, Frito-Lay debuts the new SunChips bag in the U.S.

08Sunchips.jpgThe SunChips brand from Frito-Lay, a business unit of PepsiCo, has officially announced the world's first 100% compostable chip bag, along with details about a new national consumer education effort to encourage composting and greener lifestyles. The new 100% compostable bags are made with plant-based polylactic acid (PLA), a renewable material that Frito-Lay says also allows the bags to fully compost in approximately 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin.

As promised when Frito-Lay launched its one-third compostable bag last year, the company says the new 100% compostable bags will be at full distribution in North America in time for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.

To make the fully compostable bag, Frito-Lay says its R&D teams spent several years testing different solutions to address the three layers and functions that currently make up snack food packaging:

1. A printed outer layer with packaging visuals/graphics
2. An inner layer, which serves as a barrier to maintain the quality and integrity of the product
3. A middle layer that joins the other two layers

Once developed, SunChips worked with Wood's End, an independent laboratory, to evaluate the performance and certify the compostability of the packaging. Additionally, the bag received third-party certification from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI).

Composting education is key
As a part of this introduction, the SunChips brand is launching a national composting education initiative via strategic alliances with the U.S. Composting Council and Earth 911 to promote composting through educational materials, consumer outreach, and other awareness-building activities. The goal is to reach more than 1 million American households directly through this effort.

The brand is also joining forces with Current TV for a program that challenges consumers to create videos that encourage positive change in the world and feature the SunChips compostable bag. The winning video will be selected by Current chairman and co-founder, Al Gore, and is slated to air on national television during Earth Week.

In addition, SunChips has recruited nationally recognized "green lifestyle" expert, Sophie Uliano, as an ambassador for the effort, and also is heavily leveraging SunChips packaging, point-of-sale displays, Web site, and social media channels on Facebook and Twitter to encourage composting for a truly comprehensive activation.

"With the launch of the world's first 100-percent compostable chip bag, SunChips is introducing a first-of-its-kind innovation that builds on our commitment to foster a healthier planet," says Gannon Jones, vice president, marketing, Frito-Lay North America. "True progress, however, will require not just corporate leadership, but the actions of millions of individuals. We recognize that education and awareness around green behaviors, such as composting, are critical in helping Americans to take their own steps toward a healthier planet, which is why working with organizations such as the U.S. Composting Council, Earth 911, and the Current Network are so important to us."

To kick off its composting awareness initiative, the SunChips brand held a hands-on educational event in Los Angeles in late March designed to demonstrate how consumers from all walks of life can come together with small steps of their own to create a big difference. To accomplish this, the brand unveiled a 25x40-ft billboard representation of its 100% compostable bag, made out of hundreds of compostable tiles. Sophie Uliano, along with hundreds of consumers, participated in a large-scale composting demonstration that simulated the compostability of the SunChips bag by gradually removing the tiles from the world's largest "compostable" billboard over the course of an hour.

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