Minister calls for meet to resolve milk pouch issue
Pune/Mumbai: After dairies in the state upped the ante on their stand on stopping milk pouch packaging, state environment minister Ramdas Kadam called a meeting on December 11 to find a solution to the issue. The meeting will be attended by dairy representatives, dairy development minister and environment department officials to resolve the “misunderstanding” over pouches.
Kadam clarified that the department had not barred plastic manufacturers from supplying plastic sheets. He said dairies must ensure the raw material is stamped to ensure it’s not used for anything else. Kadam said milk suppliers have only been told to ensure a proper ‘buy-back’ scheme of used pouches, which they have not yet done.
Dairy representatives had told TOI on Friday that over 200 big dairies were likely to stop polythene packaging and buying milk from farmers even if one of them ran out of plastic film after the third week of December.
Plastic manufacturers in the state and Daman had in November decided to stop plastic film (used to make milk pouches) supplies to dairies citing concerns over their inability to prepare an extended producer responsibility (EPR) plan under the plastic ban in the state. The EPR involves modalities of a waste collection system submitted to authorities for approval. The dairies expressed inability to prepare an EPR, citing impracticality in implementation.
Once dairies stop pouch packaging, milk supplies are likely to be affected as there will be no alternative.
Kadam said, “We only said milk pouches must have a deposit of 50 paise to Re1 each, and once empty, they have to be returned by customers for recycling in lieu of the deposit. But that is not being done.”
Prakash Kutwal, secretary, Milk Producers’ and Processors’ Welfare Association, which has 203 members in the state, said even if one dairy runs out of film after December 15, the association will be notified. “Within three days, other dairies will stop pouch packaging. Dairies have doubled stocks of film so that nobody will have to come to a point where pouch packaging stops, especially for the benefit of farmers and customers. Even if one dairy owner runs out of film, all dairies will stand by him,” said Kutwal.