Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas & Sameer Manekar
Milk prices will skyrocket for urban consumers if dairies replace plastic pouches with glass bottles to supply milk, said dairy owners. This decision, which will raise issues regarding logistics and disposal, won’t be welcomed by dairies or retail milk sellers, they added.
In view of the state government’s plastic ban, manufacturers of plastic pouches have announced their decision to stop producing milk pouches from December 15. While milk pouches are exempted from the ban, the government expected dairies to put in place a mechanism for the collection of used pouches from retail users and transportation of the same to the manufacturers for final disposal.
The Milk Producers and Processors Association has decided to stop selling milk in pouches in view of supply cut.
Prakash Kutwal, secretary of the association, has pointed out that the buy-back mechanism was not working as retail customers preferred selling the pouches rather than giving it for the buy-back scheme. Also, dairies did not have the necessary infrastructure to handle issues of storage and transportation of the used pouches.
On an average, Pune registers a sale of around 15 lakh litres of milk pouches per day.
Vishnu Hingne, chairman of the Pune district cooperative milk producers union (brand Katraj), said there was no other option but to use plastic pouches to sell milk. “The concept of selling milk in glass bottle is a complete non-starter,” he said. To begin with, there are hardly any manufacturers of glass bottles and sealers for transportation of milk. “Dairies do not have the technical know-how,” he said.
Transportation of milk in glass bottles not only entails higher transportation losses — around 10-15 per cent — and the increased price will also pinch the consumers. “Prices will increase by Rs 15 per litre,” he said. Most dairies at present sell milk between Rs 42 and Rs 45 per litre at the retail end.
Swabhimani Paksha MP, Raju Shetti, also said using glass bottles for retail sale of milk was not a feasible idea. “Milk pouches should be exempted from the ban,” he said.
Meanwhile, retailers are also reluctant to use glass bottles. Most said this would result in loss in business and some said they will stop selling milk. “We will stop selling milk, what other option do we have,” said Bhularam Chaudhary, manager of a 32-year-old grocery shop at Jangli Maharaj Road near Sambhaji garden. “If this situation arises, then around 70 per cent of the shops will stop selling milk. Selling milk in glass bottles is not feasible because of the damages it may suffer during transportation and storage,” he added.