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The world’s first 100% biodegradable chip packet attracted a lot of noise last week, but not the buzz that SunChips’ maker FritoLay had been hoping for.

According to MeatProcess.com, nearly 40,000 people have signed up to a Facebook group criticising the packaging material, plant-based polylactic acid (PLA), for being too loud. It is said to biodegrade in as little as 14 weeks, while conventional chip packets typically take over 100 years.

“The loudest, most annoying bag on the planet.” That’s how one Facebook user describes the new compostable SunChips bag – and she’s not alone. But its makers are doing a great job of rejecting the ruckus.

Backed into a corner, the company has incorporated the reaction into its marketing strategy, attaching signs to store shelves that read: “Yes, the bag is loud. That’s what change sounds like.”

The report said however despite the fracas from froth-mouthed Facebook fanatics, most consumers welcome more biodegradable packaging.

Market research organization Mintel recently found that 43% of consumers said they were likely to buy SunChips on the back of their strong eco-friendly positioning.

However, the question Mintel didn’t ask is how many would still buy SunChips if the package is eco-friendly and annoying.

This is not the first time a social network has spoken up about their dislike of a product and companies are beginning to realize that they need to listen.

PepsiCo (incidentally FritoLay’s parent company) had a similar experience with its Tropicana juice packaging, which drew such heavy criticism via Twitter that the company withdrew the new design just weeks after it was introduced.

Compostable packaging is an important innovation. FritoLay cannot withdraw the packaging without upsetting the (hopefully many) people who actually care that it has developed a product to help deal with our mountainous waste problem. Its challenge now is to ensure that doing the right thing remains profitable.

The report added that the company now says it is actively trying to address the issue, and is currently working on quieter packaging. — Source: MeatProcess.com

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