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Do Produce Stickers Break Down in Compost? The Answer May Surprise You

Have you ever wondered if the produce stickers that sneak their way into your compost bin are biodegradable? Here's what you need to know.

produce stickers biodegradable compostable
Written by
Calin Van Paris
Published
You finally did it—you invested in a
compost bin
. It's positioned on your kitchen counter, and you're tossing unusable
food scraps
into the soon-to-be mulchy mix left and right, creating nutrient-rich soil and subverting
food waste
from the
landfill
.
Upon further inspection, though, there seems to be a freckling of ingredients that just aren't degrading. In fact, they look as new as ever! It's those pesky produce stickers, and they're messing with your compost composition.

Do Produce Stickers Break Down in Compost?

are produce stickers compostable biodegradable
Produce stickers—aka "price look-up" stickers, or PLUs, an important inventory tool at most grocery stores—are typically made from paper and a layer of plastic durable enough to withstand transport and in-store spritzings of water to ensure freshness. While stickers are FDA-regulated and even
technically
edible, they are neither
biodegradable
nor
compostable
.
Composting
is a natural process that uses oxygen, nitrogen, and time to recycle organic matter into a material called humus, a fertilizer that can be used by farmers and home gardeners alike. And while many non-food items can be tossed into your bin or heap—think pizza boxes, paper napkins, coffee filters—most manmade products don't break down by natural means. This category includes those ubiquitous PLUs.
Here are three things you can do to reduce your produce sticker waste while the industry works to find an environmentally sound solution.

Countertop Compost Bin

Add your food scraps to this aesthetically pleasing kitchen counter compost bin.
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What Can You Do About Produce Stickers?

1. Remember to Remove

produce stickers biodegradable compostable
The obvious step: remember to remove and toss your produce stickers in the only place they can currently go, the trash. While this does nothing to reduce the waste, it will help to ensure that your compost stays healthy and viable for use in potted houseplants or your garden.

2. Shop Farmers' Markets

Produce stickers are important for inventory and product identification at grocery stores and markets, but the vendors at most farmers' markets have no need for them. Support your local growers and purchase sticker-free fruits and veggies.

3. Grow Your Own

produce stickers biodegradable compostable
In your final form, you are your own farmer and produce provider, and can easily identify your bounty without the use of a plastic sticker. Build an
organic garden
plot in your backyard, or go the small-space route with a
hydroponic gardening system
like
Gardyn or Lettuce Grow
.