The compostable packaging move – will it ‘stick’?

July 2, 2021 | 5 Min read
Packhouse tests have begun to assess performance of compostable stickers in shipping and transportation.

The New Zealand government recently announced they will phase out a number of single-use and ‘problem’ plastics by 2025. This would include not only the non-recyclable food packaging on produce, but also fruit labels. 

While a sticker on an apple or pear can seem like a tiny issue, single-use plastics are increasingly of concerns to consumers – both locally and abroad. 

A recent AFG deep-dive on consumer insights in fresh fruit packaging suggests that Covid-19 accelerated a retail trend towards pre-packaged produce. Pre-packaging also has the capacity to increase the sale value of apples and pears.  

But this retail trend is not necessarily in line with consumer attitudes towards single-use plastic packaging and food waste. As overseas markets, particularly in the EU, move towards sustainability and environmentally friendly packaging, Australian retailers are also investigating large-scale consumer-facing changes. 

The future is compostable

According to Craig Chester, APAL Head of Commercial & Brand Development, the Pink Lady brand is already taking steps to address this increasing consumer appetite for sustainable packaging alternatives and ‘greener’ purchases globally, as seen in the recyclable packaging for the PinKids brand refresh. The development of compostable fruit stickers is one key area. 

“APAL, through the Pink Lady Global Brand Team, set the broad direction for the brand across all markets, and we definitely see compostable stickers as an inevitable move for Pink Lady,” said Mr Chester.  

“As a leading fresh produce brand, Pink Lady should be at the forefront of this change. The Pink Lady brand supports increasing regional initiatives focusing on areas of caring for communities, caring for the environment and rewarding excellence in food production. Compostable stickers fit comfortably here, and APAL encourages all Pink Lady licensees to begin the move to compostable as quickly as possible.”  

Testing and transition

Pink Lady label manufacturing partners have been working with Pink Lady licensees in Europe to test performance, and meet the requirements of TUV Austria who provide certification for home compostable packaging. 

As home compostable material can degrade very quickly, extensive testing is being undertaken to ensure there is no loss of performance in storage. Packhouse tests have begun in New Zealand, France and Italy, and tests are also underway to assess performance in shipping and transportation.   

Even after these tests are completed and everyone is satisfied with the results, Mr Chester said the final step is ensuring a collaborative and inclusive process to support the move of Pink Lady licensees to these compostable stickers.  

“Changes such as this can create obsolete packaging and unnecessary waste,” said Mr Chester. “We are also conscious of ensuring any cost increase is understood and supported by licensees, for the benefits this will provide industry and consumers.” 

Categories Packaging & labelling