Eleven months ago we put a Sunchips bag to the test, placing it in a compost pile to see if it would really decompose. We checked in on the bag periodically only to find, despite the claims and pictures on the bags detailing “how easily” they would break down in a compost heap, the bag remained unchanged. We gave up, left the bag in the compost pile attached to a string, and nearly a year later on July 23, 2011, we dug it out. The results are shocking. Watch our video to see how the bag did NOT change at all!
Shortly after we published our test results last year, Consumer Reports Magazine came to the same conclusion!
And that little ‘timeline’ Sunchip bags used to have, with pictures showing “how easily” it would break down in a compost pile, well that picture no longer exits on new Sunchip bags. Smart move Frito Lay, smart move…
On the Frito Lay website the company claims it tried out its decomposition tests in an industrial compost facility and then asked a lab to test the bags in what would be a typical “home compost” pile. The pictures of their test results are completely different than what our compost challenge revealed.
Last year we contacted Frito Lay who asked its Research and Development team for a comment. The guys in R and D blamed our compost pile! Their thought was that our compost pile was not hot enough. A company spokesperson for Pepsi (which owns Frito Lay) said:
“If the temperature of this compost pile remains low (below 100 F) it will take much longer than 9 weeks to start decomposing. It the temperature is between 100 – 120 F it it will take somewhat longer (maybe 2x). If the temperature of this compost reaches >120 F for at least 1 week then it should emulate the rate of break down we showed. From the pictures attached, it appears this is an older active compost pile, meaning it’s still degrading but new adds will go slower because the temperatures have cooled.”
We asked if the company thinks their bag claims are misleading? The same spokesperson responded:
“Without physical seeing your compost pile or getting a series of temperature readings, our R&D folks can’t determine the timing of decomposition. The key as noted below — and one of the reasons all of our communications includes “hot” not just “active compost”– is temperature. Active compost is not enough. If not already, hopefully you can get the pile into 120 F range in order to start replicating the rate we saw.”
Our original Sunchips bag is now back in the compost pile, attached to the same string. We plan on checking on it again soon, any bets on how long it will really take to decompose?