The stickers you find on produce include some important information about the product at hand: how much it costs, whether it was grown organically, if it was grown with GMOS or if it was produced with chemical fertilizers. After you leave the grocery store, however, the stickers (which are coated in plastic and glue) usually become nothing more than landfill waste.
As composters, those tiny stickers give us HUGE headaches; they are often left on produce and thrown into compost bins. They eventually end up in our compost piles and can contaminate an entire batch of otherwise beautiful black gold.
Why do those stickers cause such a commotion?
The size of these contaminants is precisely the problem. Stickers that end up in backyard compost systems are difficult to pick out by hand while the stickers that are found in commercial composting facilities aren't able to be detected by the equipment for removal. Instead, they get chopped up and put into the compost pile along with the organics. This chopped up plastic either renders the entire batch unusable or degrades the quality of the finished product.
Some countries are taking strides to eliminate the use of produce stickers. Sweden has started using laser marks (aka natural branding) instead of stickers to label their produce. Not only will this eliminate tons of pounds of waste sent to the landfall, it'll also give composters a piece of mind.
Next time you bite into your apple, remember to peel off the sticker and throw it away!