Frito-Lay revisits compostable packaging with quieter design


In Texas, snack giant Frito-Lay has introduced 100% biobased packaging that is industrially compostable and—unlike its first foray into renewable packaging—quiet. 

Developed in partnership with Printpack, the bags are made of non-food, plant-based materials with newly developed compostable inks. A QR code directs consumers on locating composting drop-off sites or how to obtain a prepaid shipping label for the bags to be mailed to TerraCycle. Currently, the packaging is being used for Frito-Lay’s Off the Eaten Path chips. 

The launch is a win for Frito-Lay after a somewhat embarrassing early entry into sustainable packaging innovation. The PepsiCo subsidiary introduced plant-based SunChips packaging in 2010, although the headlines were less about the brand’s first mover status in renewable packaging and more about the bags’ noisiness. An Air Force Pilot famously characterized the chip bag as louder than the noise in cockpits, and testing pegged noise levels at 95 decibels—above the level considered safe in terms of damage to hearing. 

“It was observed early in the package development that the increased rigidity and stiffness of the bio-based material made the overall package more audibly distinguishable, that is to say, louder, during normal handling than the existing, non-compostable offering,” Mark Brogan, Senior Director of Marketing for Printpack, tells Packaging World. “To that end, special sound/frequency dampening technology was employed in the structure to reduce the overall volume and range of sound produced during product enjoyment.”