DAIRIES in the city are hopeful of a solution to the issue of disposal of plastic pouches, ahead of their meeting with state Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam on February 15.
In an earlier meeting with Kadam, dairies got three months’ time to come up with a solution for the problem. While some stakeholders have suggested introducing disposal units to make pouches ready for recycling, others have started using pouches within specified micron limits to meet the regulation.
Prakash Kutwal, general secretary of the Milk Producers and Processors Welfare Association, said, “We were asked to come up with solutions before the next meeting”. He said representatives of dairies had earlier met Pune Municipal Commissioner Saurabh Rao, who had agreed to set up a recycling plant for pouches.
Kutwal said, “The civic body has said the amount of plastic pouches in general solid waste… is not much.” He added that all the dairies had already printed buyback prices on their pouches.
Last year, Maharashtra became the country’s first state to ban plastic use. However, the milk sector was affected by the ban as it uses plastic pouches to pack and deliver milk to consumers.
The disposal of used pouches, including transportation, was to be the responsibility of the dairies. In Pune, about 15 lakh litres of milk is sold in pouches per day.
Kutwal, who also the founder-chairman of city-based Kutwal Foods, said a facility to treat used pouches before sending them for recycling has been set up. “During the meeting with the minister, we will be exploring more such solutions,” he added.
Rajiv Mitra, managing director of Govind Milk and Milk Products, said the dairy had shifted to using milk pouches within the prescribed micron limits. “We will be discussing more solutions during the meeting on February 15,” he added.
Dairies and plastic manufacturers had protested against the ban, saying it was unfeasible, while dairies had talked about how they did not have the infrastructure to treat plastic pouches.
While plastic manufacturers had refused to be part of the recycling process, consumers were encouraged to sell the pouches that dairies would be buying back, and then transport the same for recycling.
Plastic manufacturers had also declared that they will stop manufacturing pouches from mid-December. Dairies had then pointed out that the use of glass bottles was expensive since it would increase the cost of milk.