Mrs Green gets rejected :(

Filed in Blog by on October 11, 2010 11 Comments
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mrs green on the case ...

mrs green on the case ...

As you know, if I hear about a company doing great things to address the waste packaging and landfill issue, I like to give them the opportunity to share their story on the site.

A while ago I came across a brand of crisps (potato chips) called SunChips. I was reliably informed they were the first company to produce crisps in a fully compostable bag.

Yeehaa!

I contacted them, offering them a guest post slot on the site. Usually these places are grabbed straight away. Which manufacturer is going to turn down the chance to speak to a target audience about the great work they are doing?

It would appear SunChips are. This was the first time I’ve ever had the chance for a guest post turned down!

They wrote:

Hi Mrs Green,

Thank you for contacting us about our SunChips package made from renewable plant-based materials. While we appreciate the offer, at this time we are respectfully declining the chance to post to your site. In addition to being compostable, the package was designed to significantly improve environmental impact by reducing the greenhouse gases that result from using petroleum-based packages.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated and will be shared with our packaging and marketing teams.

For more information about composting and our new packaging film, please visit www.sunchips.com.

We consider you a valued consumer and hope you will continue to participate as our new packaging journey unfolds.

Best regards,

Tina
Frito-Lay Consumer Affairs
010988897A

I’m afraid it makes me question why. Is their product all it’s cracked up to be? Is there something we are not being told? Does the packaging really compost? Or maybe we’re viewed as an insignificant blog in the waste field.

So I asked them. 2 months later I have still not had a response …

But that’s not all.

Over the past month I’ve come across more articles covering an unfolding SunChips saga.

The first was from Andrew Odom who has been running his own tests on the ‘composability’ of these bags. He has followed the instructions as outlined by SunChips and discovered that they failed to compost correctly.

Then I learned over on TreeHugger that this compostable packaging has been scrapped , not because it doesn’t do what it says on the pack but because, drum roll please …….. it’s TOO LOUD!

The Telegraph take up the story, reassuring us that one out of the six flavours will remain in the compostable bags while the other five will revert back to old (non compostable) plastic packaging.

There’s even been a dedicated group of people on Facebook, comparing notes on composting their SunChips bags! (unfortunately with no positive results).

So there we have it – as a collection of people who have sensitive ears we need to revert back to laminated polypropylene. Hang the environment, at least we’ll be able to sneak a midnight feast…

But wait! This week was another story sent to me by a zero waste reader; apparently Walkers are now in the process of making crisp packets out of potato peelings … Let’s hope they can keep things quiet!

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (11)

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  1. Kelly says:

    how odd! Trying to break into the “green” market with flexible truth?
    I wouldn’t say you were “just” a blog (I have JUST a blog lol) even my parents who don’t really go online know about you!
    Just goes to show you can’t take companies words for it.

    I emailed Joules clothing a while back about their “fur lined wellie bob” As the product was made in China this would suggest that the fur had come from the worst sources possible (I won’t go into details, those that want to know can google China fur industry or watch Earthlings or youtube).
    They emailed me back assuring me it was fake fur.

    I personally found it suspicious that in this day and age they hadn’t labeled the product as “fake fur” even tesco does this! Also even if it was “fake” it was still made in China, and there have been many cases of dog an cat fur being sold as “fake”.

    So what do you do??

    Well I don’t buy them but as you say, still annoying πŸ˜›

  2. NPR (national public radio) had a bit of news also about the disappointing end of trials in recyclable packaging…the vocal facebookers have ‘foiled again…
    a) don’t eat chips while dad is fighting traffic..b) don’t disturb mom’s nap…c) can’t you find some quiet activity?
    grapes don’t make noise–fig newtons munch silently–and whatever happened to bananas? and books? become a voracious reader or count volkswagons…and dogs.
    potatoes have been genetically modified to produce higher starch content in order to use them for the packaging industry–we’ re waiting!

  3. I did an experiment when these first came into production. I laid one bag flat and then shredded the second bag and put them both on top of dirt covered with mulch. Guess what happened. Yep, they are still there and have not composted.
    I now have decided to boycott them all. If your a Facebook person stop on by and help me fight against them.
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=159819207369721

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Kelly: Hi Kelly, great story about the boots; thank you for sharing (and well done for speaking up). Thanks for the comments about the site too – much appreciated πŸ™‚
    @nadine sellers: Interesting it’s been on the radio over there. I guess decanting into another container never occurred to anyone.
    @surviving and thriving on pennies: Thanks for sharing your experiment. It would seem you are not the only one!

  5. John Costigane says:

    Well done for highlighting this example of misrepresentation, Mrs Green. It was also great to see other enthusiasts testing the claims made and finding them highly questionable. MyZeroWaste sets a fine standard in truth and accuracy essential in promoting the trend, making it an excellent contact point for businesses with Zero Waste credentials.

    Tetrapak are a fine example of a good Zero Waste business, and others can learn from their experience. To show this: they have a plastic cap which provides a leak-proof seal which allows the pack to be laid flat, cap uppermost. Compare this to a comparable plastic milk bottle which requires a combined plastic/aluminium seal below the cap which would otherwise leak if not held vertical. Tetra Paks have a superior design which is more versatile, also avoids unrecyclable combined waste (seal) and plastic labels.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, weren’t the results from other people amazing! Agree with you about tetra pak; we have taken to finding the milk bottles that come with the pull off seals around the top rather than being caught out by the plastic / aluminium combination you mention/ There are some shops we cannot use at all because all the milk comes with these combination seals …

  7. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Cravendale ( filtered milk) Tetra Paks have a seal-free cap system, Mrs Green, which I had described in the previous post, an improvement on the plastic cap, and seal, of older designs by the company. The versatility in pak design has allowed steady progress, much different from plastic bottles designs which seem less able to adapt. This newer designed cap system is also available in fruit juice paks, making them also best choice.

    Zero Waste shopping is indeed restrictive with some shops having no suitable choices. There are plenty of unpackaged, or home container, options locally, in supermarkets and in specialised retailers which cover most items, though supermarkets are uncomfortable with containers. This last aspect may never be resolved and the best we can hope for is a plastic based system which has a full lifecycle pre-designed to a sustainable standard which would be Zero Waste for consumers. TetraPak may be the answer since their sustainable credentials are way ahead of the field.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, yes we buy the Cravendale brand when we can get it; like you say, shopping can be restrictive – but that’s not always a bad thing πŸ˜‰
    I agree that we’re unlikely to get full container use in supermarkets, but we can hope for just three or four different polymers with a good recycling loop in the UK… Are you aware that tetra paks are used for items like tomatoes and chick peas in Sainsburys?

  9. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Thanks for the tip on Sainsbury’s Tetra Pak use which has seen a broadening of the range of foodstuffs covered. I will certainly check the nearest store at next visit. Enthusiasts can help this type of progress by always making these the first choice, as with previous items.

    Another enjoyable aspect of pak use, is the flattening of empties. Again, good design allows the pak to be largely cleared of air, much more than with any empty plastic bottle. The square/rectangular shaped faces providing better functionality than awkward rounded designs.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, I got news last night that a new tetra pak recycling bank was to go into a ‘local’ supermarket (well one I visit once a month) so that’s good news!
    With washing and flattening, you can get three squashed ones in the place of one unflattened one, thus saving space.

  11. Jane says:

    Grab them around the middle with both hands and squeeeeze. The fold the faces to meet the feet. Eeezy!

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