Produce stickers are easy to overlook and sometimes get eaten by accident, especially when eating fruit. These simple-looking stickers have traditionally not been very sustainable and are often made from single-use plastic.

A lot of stickers for food items are not biodegradable, making them hard to dispose of and meaning they should be removed before composting. While businesses with big supply chains love these convenient stickers, they don't consider their end-of-life during the design stage. As a result, brands using these stickers cause problems for the environment.

Many produce stickers use plastic, hindering the composting process and causing some to wonder if the stickers are becoming the new straws, given the environmental damage they can cause.

However, there are sustainable alternatives business owners can use to reduce their environment impact. If you’re wondering what to do with stickers for food items and looking for a biodegradable option, read on!

Are Fruit Stickers Compostable?

For anyone wondering, ‘Are fruit stickers compostable?’ the answer is not always. The stickers found on bananas, apples, and other produce items are often not biodegradable as each sticker is made with a thin layer of plastic, usually vinyl.

The plastic is used to help the sticker withstand sprays and water when the packaging moves from one destination to another. However, you must remove the plastic stickers before composting because they are difficult to break down.

Are Produce Stickers Biodegradable?

The answer to the question ‘Are stickers biodegradable?’ is also not always. Composting facilities need to look out for the stickers to ensure they don’t reach landfills. The screening process is time-consuming because of how thin and small the stickers are, causing many stickers to slip through and leave a sticky mess in the compost.

Can You Eat Stickers on Fruit?

No, as neither plastic nor eco-friendly custom stickers are edible. Plastic is not edible, despite various claims that there are stickers made from edible paper. Ingesting plastic stickers isn’t advisable, though the sticker will go through your body after ingesting. Despite being Food and Drug Association (FDA) compliant, the stickers have no nutritional value or flavor. They weren’t created for regular or occasional consumption.

What Should You Do With Produce Stickers?

Stickers make it difficult for businesses to accept and process large quantities of off-spec or spoiled produce, leading to truckloads being turned away and sent to landfills, triggering methane emissions.

Businesses increasingly see the issue with these stickers as they are an annoyance and also can cause reputational problems due to the hazards they cause to the environment.

Price-look-up (PLU) stickers are strictly for helping grocery store employees find the cost of different types of fruits and vegetables, as stated by the Produce Marketing Association. Also, the FDA doesn’t necessitate that retailers keep stickers on fruits and vegetables. But, they make scanning easier for businesses, existing strictly for convenience. Farmer’s markets, by contrast, typically don’t use these kinds of stickers.

Fruit stickers also contain four-digit codes, which are created by the International Federation of Produce Standards (IFPS). A unique PLU code is used for a specific variety of an item, helping checkout clerks and customers alike. Whether for organic or conventional produce, stickers provide useful information about the product. Luckily, there are compostable stickers made from paper than can do the same job at a lesser cost and are environmentally friendly.

How To Spot When Fruit Stickers are Sustainable

noissue's 100% Compostable Stickers are a great option for labelling produce

There are key identifiers that brands and customers alike can look out for when seeking compostable stickers. You can tell they are sustainable because they are made from recycled materials that are natural and biodegradable, making them easy to dispose of when the time is right. These recyclable stickers come in different shapes and sizes as well, making them easy to use for marking produce.

1. They Don’t Have a Shiny, Sheer Plastic Top Coating

You’ll know the stickers are sustainable if they don’t have a sheer plastic top coating that’s shining. The coating on sustainable stickers is simple yet stands out, with the coating made from paper, kraft material, or any other type of sustainable material.

2. The Shiny Coating is Usually Plastic

Most sustainable stickers don’t use plastic. Rather, these custom stickers use paper, made with material certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. They also allow brands to remodel their packaging by placing a QR code on them. And, they allow brands to print branded imagery on them using water or plant-based ink.

3. They’re Made of Natural, Biodegradable Materials That Aren’t Affected By Water

Ranging from kraft material to sustainable paper and cardboard, eco-friendly customer stickers are created using natural and biodegradable materials, withstanding harsh conditions, including high temperatures. They are customized with finishes that handle humidity well and are water-resistant but not completely waterproof, like plastic-coated stickers.

A Look at noissue’s Compostable Paper Stickers

noissue’s compostable paper stickers provide premium protection for branded packaging. Made from cellulose fibers, these printer paper stickers are FSC  and made using soy-based inks. They are curbside recyclable and compostable, requiring you to recycle the release liner when you’re finished with them. The stickers are uncoated and provide strong imagery for your branding.

What Does The Future Hold For Fruit Stickers?

With the eco-labeling market expected to grow by 8% over the next few years, eco-friendly custom stickers will become more commonplace as brands look to reduce their carbon footprint and contributions to landfills. Paper-made stickers for fruit and vegetables have the same effect as plastic alternatives while being compostable and easier to use.

Going forward, manufacturers must practice more sustainability during the production process to create compostable labeling that brands can regularly use.

However, because of the wide supply of produce stickers and PLU code available, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for their production. Luckily, noissue has a viable alternative.

Plastic Tax and Other Laws Coming Into Effect For Food Packaging in Different Countries

Plastic taxes and changing laws are coming into effect for food packaging across different countries, with more ethical questions being asked about food packaging and the rising costs that such taxes will incur, causing brands and manufacturers to rethink their packaging approach.

The focus should therefore be on improving compostability and reducing packaging waste, not just for the environment but also because it’s good business.

Wrapping It Up

Several biodegradable and compostable paper stickers are available for brands seeking sustainable labeling options for food packaging. More compostable options for high-volume, highly automated processes that manufacturers require will become available. Also, stickerless coding strategies are being developed as produce peels get laser-etched with QR codes, making them biodegradable and identifiable.

So, are fruit stickers compostable? Yes, if you can get them from a provider that prioritizes compostable packaging options like us! Learn more about noissue’s compostable stickers now, or browse our full range of sticker options.