Sun Chips Experiment Response

To those of you that followed my recent Sun Chips Compost Experiment (esp. the results), I thought you might find this of interest, a response letter from Frito-Lay. Basically, it gives the definition what they consider conditions for a home compost bin and composting tips on how to achieve that. While I kind of feel like they are missing the point of my letter (that I found their advertising campaign to be a bit of an exaggeration), I appreciate the response, clarification, and info.

Hi Wren,

Thank you for contacting Frito-Lay to share your comments about the 100% compostable SunChips package.

As you know, composting generates heat as a by-product. The temperature and rate of degradation will vary on how you maintain your compost pile. The hotter the temperature of your compost, the faster the materials in your pile will decompose. The SunChips compostable bag will break down in about 14 weeks if the compost temperature is maintained above 130F. If your compost pile does not get that hot, the package will still break down, but it will take longer.

It's important to maintain a good mix of "green" and "brown" materials in your compost bin. Try to add about one part "green" for every three parts "brown." The reasoning behind this is to balance the carbon to nitrogen ratio to encourage microbial activity.

Greens: fruit & veggie scraps, grass, garden clippings/flowers, green weeds
Browns: dry leaves, small twigs, straw/hay, sawdust, paper, soil/mulch/woodchips, coffee (include the filter), SunChips compostable bag (cut up)

Thicker, more fibrous items will compost faster if they are cut into smaller pieces before placing in the bin. The moisture level in your compost pile is another important variable for successful composting. Depending on the season and type of bin, you may need to water the compost several times a week.

Our home compost research found that the bigger compost bins (21 cu. ft and up) equals more efficient composting. Having a larger mass of organic materials will enable the pile to insulate itself and lose less heat from the surface, therefore increasing the rate of degradation.

Thank you again for your comments. We will continue to post composting information on

Best regards,

Friday September 10 2010File under: environment, misc

Toggle Comments (6)comment?
on Fri 10th Sep, 2010 11:20 pm PDT Mom said:
Was this supposed to be the Friday comic? Because if so, I missed the joke---and the crazy drawing.
on Sat 11th Sep, 2010 01:37 pm PDT Horge said:
Ridonkulous. They expect everyone to have a spare 21 cubic foot compost bin? That's "home composting"? I think I'm going to boycott Sun Chips for their misleading ways! (if by "boycott" I mean "not eat them, because they're not sold over here anyway, but if they were, I'd probably eat them")
on Mon 13th Sep, 2010 10:28 am PDT mindi said:
Yeah, but did you get any coupons out of the deal?
on Tue 14th Sep, 2010 03:26 pm PDT Sean said:
Did they mention a minimum temperature required for composting to take place? They mention if the temperature is maintained above 130. What about above, say, 70?
on Wed 06th Oct, 2010 12:53 am PDT Horge said:
In a bit of a follow-up to this, I read this today: Apparently American consumers found the worst thing about SunChips' new bags not the fact that they weren't all that "home-compostable" (thanks to investigative journailst Wren), but rather because they were too noisy. Clearly the crinkliness of the bag should always trump well-intended attempts at protecting the environment... (sigh)
on Wed 06th Oct, 2010 07:57 pm PDT Saxtor said:
Way to go Wren. One complaint too many, and it's ruined for everyone...

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