Maharashtra dairy owners threaten to sell loose milk after plastic ban

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Published: July 10, 2019 1:02:48 AM

Right now it is possible for dairy owners to obtain a EPR or buyback mechanism certificate by paying money but dairy owners have decided not to opt for such measures.

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

Dairies in Maharashtra have threatened to sell loose milk instead of the present system of selling milk in plastic pouches. Accusing the government of holding dairy sector to ransom under the garb of plastic ban, Maharashtra dairy owners have yet again expressed their helplessness in being able to come up with a buyback mechanism for milk plastic pouches.

Dairy owners have instead asked the government to direct state-run dairies Aarey Milk and Mahananda Dairies to come up with a successful pilot for the buyback mechanism, which they said they are willing to follow, Vinayakrao Patil, president, Maharashtra Milk Producers and Processors Association said after a meeting of cooperative and private dairy owners in Pune.

If these dairies fail to come up with successful pilot and the government still insists on dairy owners to come up with a buyback mechanism for the sector, then dairy owners shall stop providing milk in plastic pouches and sell milk in loose form through milk tankers or provide the entire milk stocks to the milk powder industry where there is a good demand. 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.

Prakash Kutwal, secretary of the association, said the dairy owners are willing to come up with a buyback mechanism for Pune city alone as it would not be possible for dairy owners selling milk in different parts of the state to collect milk pouches from consumers and establish a buyback mechanism. We have had a meeting with the authorities of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and have sought land for setting up a processing plant for plastic. While the requirement is for processing some 12 tonne per day, dairy owners are willing to set up a plant for 30 tonne per day. Patil said the PMC has not responded positively so far.

Kutwal said that dairy owners selling across the state will not be able to collect plastic pouches from various cities and have therefore decided to hold meetings with Amul Milk and Mother Dairy and other big players in state to sell loose milk.

Let the consumers bring their utensils for milk purchase, he said, wanting to know why the dairy sector alone is being held responsible for EPR while the government allows edible oil and snacks to be sold in plastic pouches.

Patil said that a meeting will soon be held with officials of Amul Milk and Mother Dairy and a joint decision will be taken to sell loose milk through tankers.

Right now it is possible for dairy owners to obtain a EPR or buyback mechanism certificate by paying money but dairy owners have decided not to opt for such measures.

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. Maharashtra environment minister Ramdas 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. Patil pointed out it is not possible for dairies to keep track of the deposit to the consumer and return since the consumers were also not very keen.

Dairy owners have also sought the pending dues of Rs 350 crore of the subsidy of Rs 5 per litre to dairy farmers and have given a deadline till July 30 to the government, failing which they have threatened to stop milk procurement.

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