Sticky Fruit Labels Get The Laser Treatment
Author: Claire Bell
Could laser labels mark the end of stickers on fruit and veg? It's a real possibility with a joint venture between a Dutch supplier and Swedish supermarket.
Do you get irritated by those troublesome little stickers that appear on fruit and vegetables? They stick to the counter tops, floors and soles of your feet. Annoying as these issues are, the real problem with the stickers is they are a waste of resources, produce CO2 emissions, are non-biodegradable and clog up the sewer system. These sticky little suckers often end up going down the sink and cannot be broken down by sewerage treatment.
The sticker's days might be numbered thanks to a Dutch fruit and veg supplier Nature & More and a Swedish supermarket ICA. They have teamed up to trial replacing the sticky labels on organic avocados and sweet potatoes with a laser mark, a change that was driven by consumer demand for less packaging.
The laser technology works by using the laser to remove some of the skin pigment from the flesh of the fruit or vegetable. This doesn't damage the produce or affect it’s shelf life, and is permanent. With plans to develop this technology further, it can be applied to a wider range of produce in the future. British store M&S are also using this technology on coconuts.
"The next step will be to use natural branding on edible skin products, such as apples or nectarines," says Peter Hagg, ICA business unit manager. "If consumers react positively there is no limit. We are planning to try it with melons in summer, as there is a problem there at the moment with stickers attaching to the skin."
The cost of the laser machine is expensive initially but over time the costs will balance out with the savings made on sticker production. The real benefits are from using more sustainable methods as a way to label foods and use less packaging.
However small they may seem, advances in these kinds of technology can benefit us all and it's often starting with sticky little problems that can lead to bigger wins further down the chain.
Positive Action you can take:
- Look for fruit and veg without stickers as well as items with less or minimal packaging.
- Melbourne Water suggests removing the stickers before washing fruit and veg to prevent them going down the drain.