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Frito-Lay offers free earplugs after noisy bag complaints

By Mike Stones , 08-Nov-2010
Last updated on 08-Nov-2010 at 16:32 GMT2010-11-08T16:32:52Z

Snack maker Frito-Lay has pledged its commitment to retain its 100 per cent compostable packaging for SunChips in Canada and now offers free ear plugs to anyone who finds the bags too noisy.

In a video posted on the SunChips Canada Facebook page, Helmi Ansari, the company’s sustainability leader for the country acknowledges the bag is “kinda noisy,” but promises to keep it. “SunChips is and always has been planning on keeping the compostable bag here in Canada,” he said.

More noise for less waste

Ansari claims the bag is 100 percent compostable within 14 weeks compared with conventional crisp packets which can take up to 100 years to degrade. “The trade off is a little more noise for a little less waste and a little more green.”

But if Canadian customers still find the bag too noisy, despite its environmental credentials, Frito-Lay promises to send them free ear plugs to protect them from the sound of the noisy packaging.

To claim free SunChips ear plugs, customers are invited to send the company a postage-paid envelope with 50 words or fewer about why they are happy to be making some noise about helping the environment.

In the United States, the company reverted to the original non-biodegradable material last month for five of its six SunChips brand bags after consumers complained the new 100 per cent plant-based polylactic acid (PLA) packaging was too noisy.

Sales for the crisp brand fell in the 18 months since the introduction of the environmentally-friendly bag. Also, about 52,000 people signed up to a Facebook group called "Sorry But I Can't Hear You Over This SunChips Bag," criticizing the packaging material for being too loud.

Wit and guts

Contributing to debate about the packaging on marketing website Fast Company, Rob Day said: “Frito-Lay had an amazing opportunity in front of them… (in countering criticisms of the noisy bags). I can't believe I am saying this, but thanks Canada for having the wit and guts.”

PLA is formed from fermenting corn sugar to produce lactic acid. Until recently, the use of PLA had been restricted to the packaging of chilled food and beverages due to its tendency to deform at temperatures above 54°C.

Meanwhile, FritoLay’s parent company, PepsiCo suffered a similar reverse with its Tropicana juice packaging. The cartons drew such heavy criticism via the social media network Twitter that the company withdrew the new design weeks only weeks after its launch.

Facebook is the most popular social networking site, used by 78 percent of online households, according to research association TNS.

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