The fruit you buy from the supermarket often comes with stickers stuck on the surface. These stickers are usually not compostable. Stickers on fruit are usually made of non-biodegradable materials like plastics in the form of vinyl coatings and should be removed before the fruit is composted.
Can You Compost Fruit Stickers?
Supermarkets and grocery stores often make use of stickers such as the Product Look-Up (PLU) stickers that help cashiers deal with identifying and figuring out the price of a product at the check-out counter.
The sheer usefulness of having stickers on fruit ensures that they are present in large amounts, which leads to the larger question of their disposal.
Here is a quick guide to help you understand the nature of fruit stickers, and explore how they can negatively impact the environment.
Materials Used To Make Stickers For Fruit
Since there are a lot of stickers made for the purpose of handling fruits in all kinds of stores, it is helpful to look at what they are made of before we can discuss how they can be disposed of.
Plastic Based Stickers
Stickers for fruit are usually made of plastics or have plastic based films like vinyl.
Plastic based stickers are convenient as they can be made cheaply, in larger quantities, and also don’t get damaged from exposure to any moisture, or during transport.
These benefits are the reason why plastic-based stickers are more prevalently used for labeling fruit.
Paper stickers are sometimes used as an alternative to thin plastics, however, they are not as durable or functional as their plastic counterparts as they easily get damaged with exposure to moisture.
Paper stickers are also more expensive than their plastic counterparts and some even have a small amount of plastic content that helps them adhere well to the surface of the fruit.
Bear in mind that though there are many materials used to make up stickers for fruit, plastic is the most frequently used and the worst for your compost and the environment.
Are Fruit Stickers Biodegradable?
Once you understand the kind of material frequently used to make stickers for fruit, you’ll be better equipped to answer the question ‘are the stickers on fruit compostable?’
Predictably, paper-based stickers are more friendly for the environment as they are biodegradable.
However, it is relevant to consider how most of the stickers used on fruit are plastic-based, which means that, in general, stickers on fruit are not compostable.
What Will Happen If You Try To Compost Plastic Stickers?
Composting refers to the breakdown of waste material into a conditioned soil (referred to as ‘compost’) that has a particular water and nutrient content.
This method is an extremely environmentally friendly way to deal with unwanted waste.
It should be known that non-specialized plastics are not biodegradable, and thus do not break down when placed in the compost.
Plastic is traditionally a synthetic material that takes several hundred years to break down completely.
Moreover, it is interesting to note that even compostable plastic takes up to seven months to break down completely, and that’s provided you have the right conditions.
When it comes to fruit disposal, the inedible parts of fruit can break down easily in the compost, leaving behind the plastic-based fruit stickers.
The plastics then tend to remain in the environment for a very long time as the time taken for them to break down does not accelerate due to the compost conditions.
The end result of such plastics in compost will end up as an extremely sticky mess.
The Trouble with Fruit Stickers
It has been established that most stickers contain plastic and plastic-based fruit stickers take an exceptionally long amount of time to break down in the environment, which does not allow them to be compostable.
What To Do With The Stickers On Fruit
First of all, peel off the PLU stickers as soon as you bring your groceries through the front door, and before you put the produce into your fridge or cupboard.
Make sure that every single sticker is removed and ends up in the general waste garbage.
Or even better yet, collect all of the stickers and do something creative with them.
Try to wallpaper something with them, produce a piece of art, or even a fruit sticker sculpture.
You’ll be doing your bit for the environment and it might even be fun.