Maharashtra allows plastic packaging for milk pouches until further notice

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Published: December 12, 2018 1:47:30 AM

On an average, around 85 lakh litres of milk is sold through plastic pouches on a daily basis.

Maharashtra’s dairy sector had threatened to suspend sale of milk in plastic pouches from December 15.

Milk consumers in Maharashtra can heave a sigh of relief as the government has agreed to take a lenient view and allow the use of plastic pouches for packaging of milk until further notice.

After dairies in the state upped the ante over their stand on stopping milk pouch packaging,the state environment minister Ramdas Kadam called a meeting of the dairy sector on Tuesday to find a solution to the issue.

Maharashtra’s dairy sector had threatened to suspend sale of milk in plastic pouches from December 15.
On an average, around 85 lakh litres of milk is sold through plastic pouches on a daily basis.

The meeting was attended by dairy representatives, dairy development minister and environment department officials to resolve issues related to EPR and use of pouches. Kadam made it clear that the department has not banned plastic manufacturers from supplying plastic film for packaging of milk and therefore the dairy sector should continue to supply milk in pouches as before.

He maintained that dairies must ensure the raw material is stamped to ensure it’s not used for anything else. Kadam said milk suppliers have only been told to ensure a proper ‘buyback’ scheme of used pouches, which they have not yet done. He said that milk pouches must have a deposit of 50 paise to Rs 1 each, and once empty,they have to be returned by customers for recycling in lieu of the deposit.

But that is not being done. The minister has called for a meeting of the dairy sector, plastic film manufacturers and the environment department officials on February 15, 2019 to take stock of the situation and discuss ways and means to overcome the extended producer responsibility (EPR) issue.

Plastic manufacturers in Maharashtra and Daman had in November decided to stop plastic film (used to make milk pouches) supplies to dairies citing concerns over their inability to prepare an extended producer responsibility (EPR) plan under the plastic ban in the state.

The EPR involves modalities of a waste collection system submitted to authorities for approval. The dairies expressed inability to prepare an EPR, citing impracticality in implementation. Once dairies stop pouch packaging, milk supplies are likely to be affected as there will be no alternative.

Prakash Kutwal, secretary, Milk Producers’ and Processors’ Welfare Association, which has 203 members in the state, said the minister displayed a very cooperative attitude and was sympathetic to the concerns of the dairy sector.

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