PSA: You Really Need to Take That Sticker Off Your Fruit

Those tiny, insignificant produce stickers are messing with our compost

A bunch of Gala apples at a grocery store with produce stickers. A new article at The Verge looks at how these stickers do not decompose in their current form.
These produce stickers should not end up in your compost.
Ethan Medrano/Unsplash

There are a lot of great reasons to compost your food waste, from the environmental (it reduces your carbon footprint!) to the practical (it can benefit your garden!). Whether you’re living in a city with curbside composting or a suburban home with more space to experiment with food waste, you have plenty of options open to you. All of that’s the good news.

The bad news has to do with the produce you might be buying, and one small detail that could harm your whole composting setup.

You know the little plastic stickers you’re likely to find on fruits and vegetables when you’re shopping for groceries? Those are, for all intents and purposes, the kryptonite to composting’s Superman. A new article by Sarah Jeong at The Verge ventures into the trouble these stickers can cause, and how environmental advocates are looking to reduce the stickers’ impact.

Jeong interviewed longtime composters who could attest to the staying power of produce stickers, with one interviewee noting that stickers remained intact even after a pair of jeans had broken down in their composting system. At issue here is a critical piece of potentially confusing terminology: While these stickers are required to be food-grade, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re compostable.

There might be a remedy at hand, however. The article mentions that a trade industry body, the International Federation for Produce Standards, is looking into a way to create a sticker that won’t last forever and could be safely composted along with the fruit or vegetable it arrived on. But for now, keep taking the stickers off before disposing of food waste.


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