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Maharashtra milk producers agree to recycle plastic pouches

Nanda Kasabe
milk, milk production

Milk producers in Maharashtra have agreed to recycle plastic milk pouches to curb environment pollution and minimise the use of plastics in the state.

Refusing to relent, the state s environment minister Ramdas Kadam has asked dairies to start implementing the recollection and recycling mechanism of plastic milk packets.

He has given dairies 15 days to come up with a buy-back mechanism for plastic packets.

In a meeting with Dnyaneshwar Modak, Joint Commissioner, Pune Municipal Corporation, the dairy owners discussed the manner in which plastic milk pouches could be collected back from consumers.

Prakash Kutwal, secretary, Maharashtra Milk Producers and Processors Association, said the dairy owners have taken a very positive approach and have decided to project Pune as a model for recycling of plastic milk pouches.

Representatives of around 16-17 dairies were present in the meeting in which they suggested that consumers and dealers could be given incentives for collection of the plastic pouches once a week and a demand has been placed for establishing a processing unit for plastic bags, Kutwal said.

We have also urged the civic body to conduct consumer awareness campaigns and hold gatherings with consumers for this purpose, he added.

Kutwal said the dairies would use their sale centres for collection of pouches.

Another meeting will be held on July 8 to review the progress made by dairies in this direction, he said, adding that a buy-back mechanism plan will be submitted to the minister once there is clarity among the dairy owners on all fronts.

Under the move, consumers have to pay additional 50 paise per plastic bag on buying the milk packet.

Once the consumer returns the packet after the use of milk, they can get back their deposited 50 paisa per plastic packet and additional money.

However, the responsibility of recycling these plastic bags will be of the milk suppliers and oil producers of the particular brand. 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.

In Maharashtra, per day, one crore plastic bags are generated which amounts to 31 tonne of plastic every day.

Some of the dairy owners had earlier said that it would not be possible for dairies to keep track of milk packets and they may not come up with any plan.

As the debate over the implementation of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) was happening in Maharashtra, the Chitale Group of Industries, that runs a dairy and snacks business in the state, has begun a Plastic Milk Pouch take back programme in association with Recykal, a start-up.

The company is planning to implement this system through a digital platform Uzed mobile app.

The Uzed mobile app is available on Google Play store and Apple Store.

Through this app, the customer has to deposit washed and dried milk bags and other plastic in collection centres near his home, the location of which is provided in the app.