Mumbai: Plastic recycling rule to choke milk supply to city

Nov 23, 2018, 08:00 IST | Arita Sarkar

Plastic manufacturers to stop supply of milk bags next month to protest alleged harassment over Maharashtra state's recycling policy

Mumbai: Plastic recycling rule to choke milk supply to city

Mumbai's plastic problem could end up choking the flow of milk to the city next month. Plastic manufacturers in Maharashtra and Daman have decided to stop supplying milk films to dairies across the state from December 15. Milk suppliers will try to keep the supply going for as long as they can with their remaining stock of milk films.

The move is a sign of protest against the state government's Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy, under which they are required to recycle the plastic milk bags. The manufacturers claim they have been facing harassment from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and civic officials for the past couple of months.

Milk suppliers met on Thursday and Decided that they will try to keep the supply going as long as possible with their stock of bags
Milk suppliers met on Thursday and Decided that they will try to keep the supply going as long as possible with their stock of bags

'Unfair recycling policy'
The city consumes around 20 lakh litres of milk every day, and the plastic manufactuer's strike will end up hitting the city hard. The decision was taken after a meeting was conducted in Pune on Wednesday. "MPCB and BMC officials are harassing us by shutting down our factories on some pretext or another. They want us to follow their EPR policy, but how can we be held responsible for recycling the plastic we produce when they have no proper guidelines or mechanism in place?" asked Ravi Jashnani, president of the Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association.

Jashnani added that it is not possible to trace the plastic packaging to the consumer, especially in cases where goods are exported to other states. On a daily basis, around 250 dairy plants supply nearly 90 lakh litres of milk in the state. The milk film for packaging is supplied by around 40 plastic manufacturers in Maharashtra and around 10 in Daman. The interruption in supply of plastic will also affect commodities like edible oil and other milk products like shrikhand.

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'No way to recover bags'
A plastic manufacturer pointed out that product manufacturers should also share the responsibility. "Once implemented, there will be a shortage of milk, and apart from the consumers, the farmers will also be affected. But how can we continue our business if the MPCB continues to harass us in this manner," he said.

He added that the milk films are made out of virgin material and are 100 per cent recyclable. "There is no way for us to collect them. In a majority of households, women sell the packets to scrap dealers," he said.

Dairy owners held a meeting yesterday in Pune to assess the situation. Prakash Kutwal, secretary, Milk Producers and Processors' Welfare Federation, said that the government must come up with a feasible solution.

"Garbage is collected by BMC in any case. The government can levy a charge of Rs 10-15 per kg of plastic packets from the manufacturers and even from us to recycle the plastic," said Kutwal. Ramdas Kadam, environment minister, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

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