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New compostable snack bags are easier on the ears

Look out Frito-Lay! Boulder, CO-based snack food manufacturer Boulder Canyon Natural Foods may have cracked the compostable snack chip-package challenge.
FILED IN:  Package design  > Structural

The company has launched a 7.5-oz compostable bag for five varieties of its All Natural Kettle Cooked Potato Chips that boasts the look and feel, as well as the sound, of its former, petroleum-based film bag, but contains more than 90% renewable material.

“It functions exactly as our standard package in terms of freshness, shipping/portability, retail presentation, etc.,” says Boulder Canyon senior vice president of marketing Steve Sklar. “In light of all the ‘noise’ associated with the SunChips bag, it’s perhaps important to note that our compostable bags feel and sound very similar to our standard packaging.”

Bag film, selected by Boulder Canyon and its converter, Genpak, is 3.25-mil NatureFlex™ NKM from Innovia Films. The high-barrier metallized film is made from wood pulp and is certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute to meet ASTM 6400 standards for compostability. Innovia reveals that the film’s “exceptional” barrier properties—a big selling point for Boulder Canyon—are enhanced by a small addition of polyvinylidene chloride.

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Says Sklar, “We’ve been talking about compostable packaging for years because it fits our corporate values, and we feel it fits the interests of our consumers. Ultimately we weren’t willing to sacrifice the taste or freshness that are the core of the Boulder Canyon brand, and the technology didn’t exist until recently.”

Film for the chip bags is printed by Genpak using seven-color (CMYK + RGB) Opaltone® technology. The process, which eliminates the need for spot colors and reduces the frequency of wash ups, is said to reduce solvent usage by up to 40%. During packaging, the converted film is run on a variety of form/fill/seal machines and performs “very similar to the noncompostable material,” Sklar relates.

As for cost, while raw materials for the compostable bag are more expensive, Sklar says that Boulder Canyon has managed to reduce the cost per ounce so that it is now on par with the cost of its standard, 5-oz bags.


Boulder Canyon introduced the new bag in several test markets in spring 2010, with a full release last fall in retail stores including Whole Foods and some Safeway locations. Concludes Sklar, “We’re optimistic that we’ll have the opportunity to put more of our snacks in this new bag, but ultimately consumer interest/demand will drive that process.”

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