Dairy owners in Maharashtra have decided to oppose the proposal of the state government to get dairies in the state to buy-back plastic pouches used to package milk from consumers. Resisting this move, they say this is an impractical solution and have decided to meet Maharashtra environment minister Ramdas Kadam on this issue.
Vinayakrao Patil, chairman, Rajarambapu Sahakari Dudh Sangh and president, Maharashtra Milk Producers and Processors Association, stated that the members of the action committee that met in Pune on Tuesday have decided to oppose this move. “We have sought time from the minister to reiterate this is totally impractical. Our further action plan will be decided after the meeting with the minister,” he said.
No other state has come up with such a directive and it is unfair to expect dairies in Maharashtra to come up with the buy-back mechanism, he said. Patil, however, pointed out that should the government take action against any dairy for not implementing the buy-back mechanism norms, all the dairy owners would collectively get together and stop collection of milk.
Prakash Kutwal, secretary of the Association, said that time has been sought from the minister to apprise him of the challenges involved in the implementation of the EPR scheme.
Dashrath Mane, chairman, Sonai Dudh Sangh, who also attended the meeting, said that all the dairy owners have expressed their inability to implement the EPR plan. Using glass bottles is not feasible and it will hike rates by `6-8 per litre, he said.
The Maharashtra government has revived an earlier proposal and has given them a couple of weeks to come up with a mechanism for buying back pouches from consumers. The 15-day deadline was the third such over the past year or so.
As part of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) plan under the plastic ban, milk producers have to inform the government how they will collect and recycle empty plastic pouches. Dairies had earlier indicated that prices could rise by `10-15 per litre for supplying milk in bottles, failing which they would resort to an agitation.
Amul, the largest dairy in the country has said the state government insistence on buyback is an impractical idea.
On an average, around 85 lakh litres of milk is sold through plastic pouches on a daily basis across the state. In Pune, nearly 15 lakh litres of milk is sold daily in plastic pouches. Kadam had stated that milk suppliers have only been told to ensure a proper ‘buy-back’ scheme of used pouches, which they have not yet done.
He had said that milk pouches must have a deposit of 50 paise to `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. Another dairy leader blamed the rise of the newly formed EPR agencies for this insistence on unconventional ideas like buyback.
Dairy owners have also decided to raise the rates of procurement by `2 per litre.
Kutwal pointed out that for those whose consumer rate of milk is `44 per litre will remain unchanged and `2 could be cut at the dealer end.
Those dairies that sell milk at `42 per litre will hike rates for the consumer by `2 per litre, taking it to `44 per litre. MIlk prices shall not exceed `44 per litre in the state, Kutwal said, adding that 80% of the dairies in the state sell milk at `44 per litre to consumers.