Editor's Note: Three cheers for sustainability, jeers to consumers

November 1, 2010
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Last month when we were preparing this issue devoted to sustainability, I wondered if our readers around the globe could hear me laughing out loud. It was a laugh uttered not out of joy but irony.

Of course, it’s no laughing matter that Frito-Lay was forced to pull its compostable SunChips bag because of lagging sales due to the loud crinkling sound resulting from a  mere tap to the bag or the extreme crinkling sound when opening and reaching into it.

The loud but environmentally friendly package wouldn’t prevent me from purchasing the product again, as much as I wouldn’t stop purchasing a well-respected mustard brand whose lift-and-peel closure never seems to lift and peel easily for me.

I won’t deny the SunChips bag is loud. In fact, just a few days before Frito-Lay’s announcement about pulling the bags, I was enjoying some leftover SunChips during a flight and wondered if I was disturbing nearby sleeping passengers.

As we all know, the bag caused quite a stir on YouTube and even garnered a front-page Washington Post story with consumers complaining about noise pollution and getting caught snacking late at night.

Sorry, consumers, you can’t have it both ways. If you truly want to embrace sustainability, you have to recycle containers, take reusable bags to the grocery store and sometimes deal with less-than-optimal conditions to save the planet.

According to Food Engineering’s 2010 State of Manufacturing survey, sustainability remains one of the top issues facing food manufacturers. Now it’s back to the drawing board for the compostable bag. I’m sure you will be reading about enhancements for this type of packaging soon. Stay tuned. I know our industry is up to the challenge.

So, cheers to Frito-Lay for introducing the SunChips compostable bag to the market.

Jeers to the public for rejecting it. Maybe they’re not that serious about saving the planet after all.

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