compostable Sun Chips bags?

mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)March 19, 2010

Hubby bought snack chips - Sun chips - in new compostable bag. The chip website says it is made from plant materials, but does not say much else about what the bag is made of. It is so shiny inside! I seriously feel weird putting it in my compost - I wish I could find out more about what makes this "film" they discuss on website. Anybody know how safe this is for my family's veggie garden?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I did a little research and contacted a friend of mine who deals with plastics and polymers. He says that it's a plant based plastic called PLA Poly-Lactic Acid. It has a fermented dextrose base. ( I'm translating from Geek-nerd to layman's terms) Now from my own research until Earth day 2010 the bags are only 1/3 plant materials. After that they should be 90% plant.. Sun-chips says that the bags should be composted in a "Fast and Hot" compost pile to be quickly decomposed. (much slower any other way)

So technically it is a plastic, though plant based. I and my plastics buddy are no experts. But we are both avid gardeners and we both think that we would let them go to the actual garbage rather than compost them. (He went into rather colorful "sermon" about "green plastics" and he's in the business of plastics)

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 1:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)

Hmm - Thanks monk!

I think I will stick to non-plastic plant composting.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 1:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your more than welcome, and as I said. I nor Eddie are "experts" but, he's the plastics man and he seemed to believe the idea to be more "manure and compost" than the bag.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 2:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PKponder TX(7b)

You would not believe the R & D that went into developing those bags! I'm really excited about them and hope that all Lay's Chips will soon be using this packaging.

I do work for Pepsico and could be biased :-) , but we have been recycling the bags into book covers and tote bags for a couple of years now. We are looking at ways to be a greener, more environmentally responsible organization.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 7:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)

Thanks for your comments Pam!

I guess I am glad the packaging materials are being developed to break down more easily. The website says it needs to happen in a HOT pile, though. Most natural plant products break down hot or cold in time. Also, does it take more energy or less energy to produce this packaging, compared to other methods I wonder.

I know I can compost other people's lawn clippings, but if they use chemicals on the lawn I am not going to put those clippings in the compost that feeds my vegetable garden soil and then my family.

So having more information on the safety of these chip bags as they break down would be nice. I would not mind a tote bag made from recycled plastic, but I am not eating my tote bag.

Ultimately, for even better health I suppose my family should consider bypassing the chip aisle at the store and eating potato and corn in their natural form instead. But who can resist the urge sometimes!!??? :) Rachel

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 7:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PKponder TX(7b)

It will compost in a cold pile, it just takes longer than the 14 weeks it takes in a hot pile. Have you seen the website?


Here is a link that might be useful: Sun Chips Compostable bags

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 7:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)

This is what they have on the website. Thanks Pam for clarifying!

"What we have found is that under aerobic compost conditions at >55ËC the film structure breaks down very quickly  about 12-16 weeks. These conditions are typical for an industrial compost facility. Additionally, we have found that under anaerobic conditions (similar to what would be found in a landfill)no significant decomposition takes place. This means that the new film would not decompose in a properly maintained landfill. Next we wanted to try to simulate a well run home composting process by running the aerobic experiment under adiabatic conditions. In other words we put the ideal mixture of grass clippings and leaves (greens and browns)into a test chamber along with samples of the new Sun Chips film. We then let the composting cycle follow it natural course and monitored the results. We found that the temperature rise that resulted from the natural decomposition of this mixture could reach 55ËC or higher for periods of time (first 1Â2 weeks). The new SunChips film decomposed at the same rate as the rest of the mixture and in about 12Â16 weeks was completely gone. Our conclusions are that under ideal compost conditions the new film will break down. Additionally, we
are working to understand what will happen if the film is exposed to less than ideal conditions  poor mixture of
browns and greens and lower reaction temperatures as a result. We will be sharing these results once available,
but early data indicates that lower temperatures result in slower breakdown."

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 8:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jonas302(central mn 4)

That is to bad they don't break down in landfill as we know that is where most will go

It does seem really interesting I might just buy a bag to try I think anybody that does should report back to this thread with details

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 8:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PKponder TX(7b)

Quote: "That is to bad they don't break down in landfill as we know that is where most will go"

and that's a crying shame! Well, I hope that at least some people will compost them and not pitch them into the trash.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 6:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is the first I've heard of the compostable Sun Chips bags. Good for Frito Lay, but too bad they don't break down in a landfill.

I had a smoothie in a corn based plastic cup once, and left the cup in my hot car. The cup totally melted in the heat and was all crinkled up when I found it! I couldn't help but wonder why more companies don't use these types of plastics?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 1:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are lots of new bio-plastic products available today that are made from soy or corn or various nut oils, such as bags, cups, forks and knives. The main problem, as with all new technologies, is the higher cost. The other problem is that many of these products are a mix of petroleum-based and plant-based plastics. Within 10 years all throw-away plastic items can and SHOULD be made from bio-plastics. I'm a Libertarian, and hate any form of government regulation, but I'm personally eco-conscious, and I think the best thing the government could mandate is that all such plastic products (temporary use ones)be bio-based within 10 years. Then, and only then, landfills will be able to have a separate composting pile that will compost these plastics separately from ordinary trash. It would benefit the environment, national security (less demand for foreign oil) and the economy (money goes to American farmers, not OPEC).

My town (the Town of Islip on Long Island, NY) was the first town in the country to build a separate recycling facility and mandate the separation of paper, glass, metal and plastic from ordinary trash, back in 1987. The town has now banned the dumping of grass clippings (toxic smell when dumped in a mass), and they also have separate pick-ups in the spring and fall for yard waste that they compost in a separate facility. I'm hoping they will give tax credits to those of us getting rid of our lawns, but so far they have just been encouraging mulch mowers and charging landscapers extraordinary fees for grass clippings that they then ship out of state.

The reality is that most people will not be composting their plastic bags, but if all the chip companies convert to bio-plastics, then the costs of production will drop and other plastic bag manufacturers (like grocery bags) will follow suit and they can all be composted in special landfills instead of ending up floating in the ocean where they kill birds and fish.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dogwind(Z8a TX)

natschultz: you definitely are not a libertarian.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 8:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
motria(z6 Chicago)

I was wondering about this, too, but couldn't figure out from the website what are the breakdown products of PLA.

According to these researchers at University of Nebraska (see link), PLA breaks down to carbon dioxide and water. I would gather that Sun Chips bags have some inks on them, too. Probably nothing more toxic than what's printed on your Sunday paper.

So I would feel okay about putting these bags into my compost tumbler for the sake of diverting waste from landfills.. however they wouldn't contribute to the organic content of the final compost.

Here is a link that might be useful: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Industrial Agricultural Products Center

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 7:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

There were attempts at degradable bags 20 years ago, but even if the idea takes awhile to get off the ground, I think it's a good trend. I don't take it as the solution to all our problems. We need to REDUCE and REUSE, THEN recycle and compost, and finally, throw.

Nothing breaks down much in landfills. They're designed to keep water and air out for other reasons, as a result the trash kinda just sits there.

I may have to get a bag of those and try it out.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 11:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You might be a compost whacko enthusiast...

...if you buy a bag of Sun Chips just to see if the bag does, in fact, compost. ;-)


P.S. Thought of it myself but I'm gonna see if the bowling center owner will bring some in just so's I can get the bags.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 11:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have been feeling suuuuper guilty lately, for humanity I guess, because of the amount of recycleables we trash. So sad! I was really glad to see this! It's a step anyway...

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The other day I noticed a new little display at my university's student center. They set up a little fish tank 2/3 full of soil and stuck a compostable Sun Chips bag (which they sell in the food court) in it, pressed up against the front glass, with a heat lamp (or maybe just a spot light) pointed at it from above.

I really hope they're not expecting that bag to decompose "in front of our eyes" over the next few months. That bag isn't going anywhere in that environment.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 10:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jonas302(central mn 4)

A follow-up on this old story
I was moving compost today and found this bag in the pile

I didn't write down when I had put it in but it was within two weeks of this original posting so end of March sometime the pile consisted mostly of rabbit manure, oak leaves, cow manure, and cardboard boxes it was a good hot steamy pile although I think my thermometer is in there somewhere last time I saw it the pile was running about 140 everything else is quite done and I had moved the pile off to cure beginning of August

I think I good washing the bag would look as good as new Oh well I will toss it in the next pile and see what happens in the spring

Even worse news is that Frito- lay has pulled most of the bags because whiny people complained that they were to loud

Here is a link that might be useful: sun chips story

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 7:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I won't see the results of my experiment until 2012. It went into the slow bin with a bunch of dog. um, stuff, Yeah stuff. It went into a bin of dog stuff.

No high expectations from what little I hear.

No, I don't plan on any updates on this thread.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 12:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lcpw_gw(z6 St Louis)

I'm surprised at all the people lamenting the fact that these bags won't decompose in a well-managed landfill. Isn't that true for EVERYTHING in a landfill? That's why it is distressing to send food waste or yard waste to a landfill; the conditions there keep it all intact practically indefinitely. For me, that's a key motivator in composting, and why I work to compost even slightly more challenging materials like meat.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 12:12PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Lawn fertilizer to increase nitrogen in flower beds?
For several years now my lawn and beds have been fed...
Miracle-Gro Garden Soil
I was at Home Depot this morning getting a few things...
Is non-organic compost OK?
Hello, I am wondering if buying compost from a small,...
Planting in area covered with "playground" wood chips
I need some advice... I recently had a small playhouse...
Questions about gritty mix
Hi folks, I am a long time gardener but new to the...
hsw (zone 6, Boston area)
Sponsored Products
Black Microfiber and Memory Foam Bean Bag Chair (8' Oval)
Hand-hooked Kaidgen Indoor/ Outdoor Rug (8' Round)
Cornwall Multicolor 144 x 84-Inch Curtain Panel Pair
$156.95 | Bellacor
Gray Granite Stone Vessel Sink 24"x16" - TORRENCE
New Antiqued Hand Knotted Red & Ivory 6'x9' Unique Oriental Kazak Wool Rug H3380
BH Sun Inc
Moonrays Outdoor Lighting. Outdoor Polyresin Solar Powered LED Garden Elf Holdin
$16.98 | Home Depot
Eames Rocking Chair-Green
IFN Modern
Thermocast Kitchen Brighton Drop-in Acrylic 33x19x9 5-Hole Double Bowl Kitchen
Home Depot
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™