"World's first 100% compostable chip package," the SunChips bag said. "It breaks down completely into compost in a hot, active home or industrial compost pile." And in teeny type: "This package is suitable for industrial composting." Anyone who has opened the bag will second another note: "This bag is louder because it is compostable." In fact, it was so loud that at press time, Frito-Lay decided to use the packaging with the compostable claim only for specially marked bags of original-flavor chips.
For 13 weeks, we kept one compostable bag in a home compost pile of grass clippings, wood chips, and leaves, with starter dirt mixed in. We replenished the pile and wet it when necessary. We also crinkled a new bag and measured its noise level.
The items in contact with the bag composted nicely, but the bag itself? Take a look at the photo. It might decay in an "industrial" compost pile, though we can't say for sure. And don't think about sneaking a compostable bag into a movie theater: When crinkled, the bag was roughly twice as loud as a Tostitos bag—loud enough that it would drown out the soundtrack.