Are potato chip bags recyclable?

Do you know where to recycle your potato chip bags? After a long day of snacking, it’s time for some recycling. Potato chips are delicious and the perfect snack but what do we do with all those plastic bags? This blog post will explore if potato chip bags can be recycled!

Despite being recyclable in a way, potato chip bags need a more tedious process to be recycled.

Potato chip bags are not meant for your regular recycle bin because most chip bags are constructed from aluminum covered with polypropylene. Also identified as metalized polypropylene or low-density polyethylene film, those chip bags are truly a big plastic aluminum hybrid mess.

The great news is that organizations are starting to see and incorporate eco-friendly methods. More and more businesses have started to upcycle already used chip bags to dodge an end destination of the wasteland. Alternatively, chip bags are reproduced into goods like clipboards, tote bags, or trash cans.

The need for perfect potato chip bags

Aside from the complexities of spices and preservatives that go into producing a flavored chip, we should also really think about the bag the chips are packaged in. 

Food packaging can have a meaningful impact on food taste, quality, longevity and marketability.

Something that looks as simple as a brightly decorated plastic bag can really be a good complex. A chip bag needs to keep contaminants and moisture out just because no one wants to eat soggy chips. 

The tricky part is doing so without percolating any of its parts into the contents – which could make food taste and smell really bad. The worst-case scenario of chip bags being poorly made is to expose consumers to substances that could pose health hazards. 

What are potato chip bags made of?

A normal potato chip bag is made up of various layers of polymer materials: 

  • On the inside: Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP)
  • In the middle: Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) 
  • Another middle layer of BOPP 
  • The outer layer is with Surlyn, which is a thermoplastic resin 

Each layer performs a specific function

Each layer fulfills a specific function. BOPP is an outstanding moisture barrier, keeping moisture apart from your chips. It is also repellent to oils and grease, which enables you not to get chip grease on your fingers when you pick up the bag.  

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LDPE is also resistant to vegetable oils. While both LDPE and Surlyn are sturdy and flexible, it does not mean they are indestructible. This means your chip bag won’t break if you drop it, but you can easily pull it open to get at the yummy stuff inside.

Not all potato chip bags are created equal.

Different chip manufacturers have various packaging materials with changing combinations of polymers. In the same way, as brands continually look for new ways to develop the goods, improving the packaging is also a never-ending process. 

In addition to determining what the next chip taste should be, producers also do a lot of packaging testing to secure that their bags meet not only the needs of their buyers but also regulatory requirements. 

In order to keep quality, tests like film layer study, material classification, CFR testing, and failure investigation are made when creating potato chip bags. These studies help businesses prove if chip bags can hold food as fresh as possible, besides confirming that failure of the packaging itself changes the taste and nature of the food it contains.

Common questions about potato chip bags

How many chip bags are thrown away each year?

Potato chips are the most popular one snack food among America – all flavors and types. Frito Lay sells about $12 million worth of potato chips annual. If you break that down into about $3 per bag, that makes around 4 million bags sold annually.

Where do potato chip bags go?

Since most potato and tortilla chip bags are produced from aluminum laminated with polypropylene, also known as metalized polypropylene, potato chip bags need a more tedious recycling method. Only a small percentage of these bags actually get recycled, while the rest ends up in landfills.

Are potato chip bags biodegradable?

Snack bags are reusing contaminants. The sparkling lining in chip bags is usually aluminum or unique mixed plastic. Because they are partly plastic, chip bags remain to be non-biodegradable. Despite efforts to make more environmentally-friendly potato chip bags, fully biodegradable chip bags are still quite far-fetched.

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The growing call to boycott products packed in plastic puts pressure for companies to come up with greener alternatives in packing their products. Until these companies all follow suit to create a more sustainable packaging, potato chip bags could still end up in landfills instead of recycling facilities.

Comment: The Bad And The Ugly Of Potato Chip Bags

It’s been estimated that billions of potato chip bags are thrown away each year. The problem is most of those bags are made of polypropylene, a petroleum-based plastic that is toxic to animals and humans alike. Early potato chip bags were simply paper with the thin ends stapled or ironed together. In the beginning, potato chips were packed in tins or barrels, leaving chips on the bottom crusted and stale.

These days, potato chips are either dipped in salt or coated in salt before being served. This is partly due to the rising popularity of fried foods, but it’s also because the packaging itself has become more efficient. Companies can pack their products more efficiently, creating smaller packages that keep foods fresher for longer. In addition, companies are using a variety of new, creative ways to package their fried foods to make them as appealing as possible while also minimizing environmental impact.

A common thing

One of the most common things you’ll find in a typical grocery store is a can of compressed air, usually found in the vegetable section, that contains a mixture of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, salt and oil. Although the composition of these ingredients sounds harmless, they are all capable of causing serious damage to the atmosphere if they are not kept in check. Compressed air can cause serious spikes in atmospheric pressure, much like what happened during Hurricane Katrina. In addition, potato chips and other snack foods are often stored in damp places like storage areas and cooled areas, both of which increase the potential for chemical reactions that could contribute to pollution.

A can of compressed air is also commonly found inside of a bag of potato chips. In addition to releasing small amounts of oxygen, the air inside the chip bag also contains a wide range of chemicals, some of which are suspected of being carcinogens. Baking soda has been shown to contribute to the growth of stomach cancer in lab animals; hydrogen peroxide has been found in studies to cause changes in DNA strands that could lead to the formation of deformed ears and lungs; and sodium bicarbonate has been implicated in a number of cases of botulism. The long-term exposure to these chemicals may be extremely harmful to humans, particularly those with weak immune systems or with a history of allergies. It is important that consumers choose chips that contain a preservative, like Baking soda and butter, or that utilize a baking powder as a stabilizer.

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Another thing that you may find in your supermarket is sodium bicarbonate or table salt. This substance is often added to potato chips and other snacks to improve the texture, flavor and overall health of the products. Although it does slightly enhance the flavor, there are serious concerns about the negative health effects of consuming excessive amounts of sodium bicarbonate. High levels of salt have been linked to conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as to the risk of strokes and other circulatory problems.

As delicious as potato chips and fries are, they do not make good dietary choices for a number of people. People who have diets that exclude potatoes or foods that contain a lot of salt are at an especially high risk for health problems. While there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying potato chips and fries, if you do not reduce your intake of salt or eat healthier snacks and foods, you could be putting yourself at risk for a number of unwanted diseases. Even if you are not interested in developing any of these conditions, you are likely to feel less than satisfied with the flavor and the textures of your potato chips and fries. When you make the switch to a healthier alternative, you will reap the health benefits and you will also enjoy the delicious taste of potato chips fried to your heart’s desire.

Are potato chip bags recyclable?


We have to rethink how we are doing it all. It is important to consider our footprint! Susan has been writing on this blog since 2020, but it has been on her mind for a lot longer!

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