The PepsiCo-owned company rolled out the eco-crisp bag in April 2009 but was inundated with protests that the polylactic acid (PLA) material was too noisy. In October 22010, the US-based snack-maker succumbed to consumer pressure and reverted to the original non-biodegradable material for five of its six SunChips brand bags.
Sales of the crisp brand reportedly declined during in the 18 months the environmentally-friendly bag was on sale, which was said to biodegrade in as little as 14 weeks.
"It was interesting we got a lot of extremely positive feedback ...but on the same hand we heard one overwhelming complaint," said Brad Rodgers, manager of sustainable packaging for PepsiCo advanced research told the Associated Press.
The company has now introduced a new bag which it hopes will satisfy both environmentalists and noise-sensitive consumers.
The breakthrough was made after a different adhesive employed to bind the inner and outer layers of the material was found to dampen the noise emitted by the bag. The new material has a sound level of around 70 decibels – equivalent to an average radio, whereas the original design was said to give off noise that registered as loud as 85 decibels – the equivalent of a noisy street or alarm clock.
Frito-Lay declined to disclose how much it spent on the redesign.
Rodgers told Associated Press that engineers had examined dozens of options before arriving at a solution. He acknowledged he was not initially convinced by the theory that the razor-thin layer of adhesive would reduce noise. But engineers found that the more rubber-like adhesive did absorb some of the sound.
The new bags are currently being delivered to retailers – but only for the company’s plain flavoured crisps, the only one of the brand to have retained the 100 per cent PLA packaging from last year's withdrawal.
Frito-Lay said it is waiting for a consumer feedback before rolling out the new packaging across the full range of crisps and is asking for them to register their views through social media sites.
The company has to date issued no press release on either the Frito-Lay or PepsiCo websites but instead trumpeted the move on its Facebook page.
“You asked for a quieter bag and we heard you loud and clear,” said the company on the social media outlet. “Original SunChips snacks now come in a new compostable bag that’s twice as quiet as our last one.”
The entry had elicited more than 1,300 responses after just 22 hours.