27 Jul 2018

Stickergate - Do we need stickers on fruit?

From Checkpoint, 5:25 pm on 27 July 2018

They're small in isolation, but stickers on fruit, which are generally made of plastic, are having a negative impact on the environment and there's one man who would like to change that.

John Cole calls it "stickergate" and wants to get rid of what he sees as just more plastic pollution.

He said the industry was not doing itself any favours by relying on the environment, but poisoning it at the same time.

"Because it's so small people tend to see it as insignificant, but when you take 5 billion insignificant pieces and you put them all together, it's actually quite a big problem."

Mr Cole recycles everything and noticed that fruit stickers were practically indestructible and survived the composting process.

They go through the mulcher intact, he said, and they come out after five months in a compost heap unchanged.

But Tony Sayle from Jenkins FPS, which is the biggest fruit sticker maker in the country, said people wanted to know where the fruit came from and when loose fruit was sold at varying prices, the consumer did not want to be overcharged.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said fruit stickers were about branding for export.

"If it doesn't have a label the consumers, you know the people who shop in Japan and in Europe, they won't buy it."

Compostable stickers are available, but they will not compost in back yard operations, only in commercial composts and growers do not like them because they are 30 percent more expensive.

Mr Chapman said if they received consumer feedback that people wanted compostable fruit stickers, that is what would happen.