Jan 02, 2024

Are Chip Bags Recyclable? Snack Companies Try New Packaging to Ditch Plastic

Companies from Frito-Lay to Kettle Chips are experimenting with corn starch, calcium carbonate and other materials that eschew plastic but preserve taste.

Bags of PepsiCo Inc. brand Lay's potato chips for sale at a grocery store in Kentucky.

Florencio Cuétara is the kind of person who crosses the street to tell people to pick up their litter. One day, Cuétara, an avid diver, was swimming in the Mediterranean when he came across a plastic cookie bag. “This bag hits me in the face as I’m swimming. And I’m cursing whoever put it in there, as if it’s somebody else’s fault,” Cuétara says. “Then I realized that the bag was one of my bags — with my last name on it.”

Cuétara’s family business is Switzerland-based snack company Cuétara Foods, which makes 25 brands of cookies, biscuits and crackers sold all over the world. For Florencio, who was CEO for the Americas at the time, that moment was a turning point. “I was like, ‘I want to blame everybody else for this,” he says. “But I’m not an innocent party here. I’m part of the problem.’”