Addition of Paper Produce Stickers

CMA strives to create a lane for innovation while acknowledging practical realities of the state of product development and the market. In this spirit, CMA accepts some compostable products that do not fit the laboratory definition of compostable.  These products are those that composters have traditionally accepted (like paper napkins) or that reduce plastic contamination.  For example, CMA accepted paper straws for a period to reduce the number of plastic straws that contaminated the compost stream.  Once compostable adhesives were reasonably available, CMA removed paper straws from this category.  Paper straws must now pass ASTM laboratory testing as well as field disintegration testing. 

To address a common contaminant in compost feedstock streams, CMA is adding paper produce stickers to its acceptance standards under our Plastic Elimination Strategy.  These small stickers, adhered to every fruit or vegetable in grocery stores across the country, enter compost streams by the millions.  Because of their size, these stickers can make it through many of the contamination reduction methods employed by compostoperations. Plastic stickers do not disintegrate in the compost process and remain at the end of processing, potentially contaminating the finished product.

Based on our research, a truly functional, compostable pressure-sensitive adhesive is not readily available in the market.  As with straws, we anticipate such an adhesive will be available within the next few years.  At that time, produce stickers will be required to pass ASTM as well as field disintegration testing to become CMA certified.  Until that time, CMA will evaluate paper produce stickers for acceptance (not certification) with confirmation of the following:

  1. Constituency must be primarily paper.
  2. Total fluorine <100ppm confirmed by testing at a CMA-approved laboratory using CMA-approved protocols.
  3. Additional testing dependent on constituency.

These labels will be given the CMA-S designation.

For questions or additional information regarding CMA’s Plastic Elimination Strategy or evaluation of paper produce stickers, please contact Janet Thoman, Compliance Director at