Dairies in Maharashtra got a breather after the State Environment Minister, Ramdas Kadam, agreed to temporarily suspend action against plastic milk pouches till February 15. Kadam, who had met a delegation of Milk Producers and Processors Association in Mumbai on Tuesday, had asked plastic pouch manufacturers not to suspend their production as planned from December 15.
Maharashtra’s plastic ban has become an issue for the dairies, as they are supposed to buy back the used pouches and send them to the manufacturers for processing. The dairies have complained of lukewarm response from consumers as well as logistical problems with storage and transportation of used pouches. Earlier in the month, the association had decided to suspend the sale of milk pouches once they had run out of stock, while the plastic pouch manufacturers had decided to suspend operations from December 15.
Pune reports sale of over 18 lakh litres of milk in pouches per day.
Prakash Kutwal, secretary of the association, said during discussions with the minister, the government decided to take a lenient view on the matter. “As of now, the pouch manufacturers have been assured of no action till February 15,” he added. Later, the minister will again hold a meeting between the pouch manufacturers and dairies to discuss the issue.
Most dairies use milk pouches ranging from 250 ml to 1 litre. Consumers generally wash the pouches and sell it to the recycler at a premium. The government’s plan to make dairies buy back the pouches did not work out as planned as consumers preferred to sell them to recyclers, rather than selling them back to the dairies at 50 paise per piece.
Also, dairies complained of the extra money they had to spend to transport the pouches.
The other alternative — the usage of glass bottles — was also not feasible, given that the milk prices would shoot up by Rs 15-17 per litre. As glass is fragile, losses in transportation and storage would also have increased.