Bostock New Zealand, a Hawke’s Bay apple grower, has become the first apple exporter in the Southern Hemisphere to start using compostable PLU stickers on its apples. PLU or price-look-up stickers are used on the fruit so that checkout staff and consumers can easily identify the product. However, they add a lot of waste; around one billion PLU stickers are used on New Zealand apples each year.
Bostock is New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower, and have started to lead the charge against plastics. The compostable stickers will be trialled this year, with Bostock looking to expand upon their compostable offerings in the coming seasons. Heidi Stiefel, Bostock New Zealand organic supply manager, said, “We are using the compostable stickers for a European customer and on the large Braeburn apples targeted for the USA and the local New Zealand market. The sticker laminate is 100 percent industrial compostable and so is the backing the stickers come on. There are thousands of metres of backing, so it is good that it is now compostable material instead of plastic.”
While Stiefel said the company would prefer to not use PLU stickers at all, it is necessary for many customers and retailers who require them for identification. “Without PLU stickers, consumers would not be able to easily identify organic apples from conventional apples, so they are necessary.” The new sticker meets both FDA and EU regulations for direct food contact as well as breaking down when put in an industrial compost.
“We are continually looking for more sustainable packaging options and are very excited to be the first apple grower in the Southern Hemisphere to trial compostable PLU stickers this season.”