WHILE THE state environment department has set July 11 as the deadline for all dairies to put in place a buyback mechanism for plastic milk pouches, dairy operators say they are still awaiting clarity from the government on how such a mechanism will work.
As per the notification issued by the department on March 23, dairies should use plastic bags of not less than 50 microns thickness to package milk. Besides, they should print a buyback price, of not less than Rs 0.50, for the pouches. This would then enable a buyback mechanism for recycling of the plastic pouches. Milk dairies are expected to set up such a mechanism by July 11.
Officials of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Milk Federation, an apex federation of district and taluka-level milk unions, said that they have written to the state dairy development and environment departments seeking more information. “We have asked for clarity on how to set up the recollection mechanism and how the refund system will work,” said an official from the federation.
The official added that the federation has decided to start printing a buyback price on the pouches. “But the decision on when to start printing this is still to be taken.”
Prakash Kutwal, secretary of the Milk Producers and Processors’ Welfare Association, said that dairies don’t have the expertise needed to set up the buyback mechanism. “We haven’t heard anything from the government on the issue so far. We don’t know how to recollect the milk pouches. The government should guide the dairies about it.”
Arun Narke, former president of Indian Dairy Association and director of Gokul Dairy in Kolhapur, said the government should provide some financial assistance for setting up the buyback mechanism. “Using plastic bags above 50 microns and setting up the buyback mechanism for recycling will put additional financial burden on dairies. So, the government should guide us in setting up the mechanism and also provide some funds. Otherwise, it may lead to increase in milk prices,” he added.
Officials from the environment department said that they haven’t held discussions with the dairies on the mechanism. “We have clearly stated in the notification that milk dairies, retailers and traders should ensure buyback mechanism, collection and recycling system,” said an official.