British Columbia

City councillor aims to eliminate plastic produce stickers

"When you look into it, it becomes more than just some innocuous little sticker, it becomes something bigger," says Maple Ridge City Councillor Craig Speirs.

Maple Ridge City Councillor Craig Speirs says plastic-based stickers contaminate compost

Maple Ridge City Councillor Craig Speirs says the stickers commonly found on fruit and vegetables contaminate the compost stream. (Alan Levine/Flickr)

A city councillor in Maple Ridge, B.C. is putting forward a proposal to peel the grocery store stickers off fruits and vegetables for good.

Maple Ridge Councilor Craig Speirs says the plastic-based stickers are a serious contaminant.

"They get thrown into the compost stream and contaminate the compost stream which then contaminates the soil that grows our food," he explained.

The small stickers are used to identify organic items or mark produce with the Price Look Up (PLU) codes used by cashiers.

Small things add up very quickly ... We go through billions of stickers.- Councillor Craig Speirs

The City of Maple Ridge has put forward a preliminary proposal to get rid of the stickers for the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention.

The proposal says the use of plastic, non-compostable identification stickers should be eliminated and replaced with compostable stickers, vegetable-based ink or food safe stamps.

Speirs says reaction to the idea has been mixed, with some on social media saying the tiny stickers are not a big deal and the city should focus on other issues.

"There's been a lot of derision online. I understand. People consider them small things. But in our consumer society, small things add up very quickly ... We go through billions of stickers."

The City of Maple Ridge is forwarding the resolution to the Lower Mainland Government Association for consideration and if approved, the resolution could go onto the UBCM which can suggest changes to provincial and federal legislation.

Speirs is optimistic.

"I'm not shy about stepping up and putting things forward when I think there's an issue that should be addressed or at least discussed."

Want to hear more? Listen to our full interview with Craig Speirs on CBC's The Early Edition here: