Maharashtra govt asks dairies to submit buyback plan for milk pouches

Mumbai, Dec 12 (NIE): Days after dairies in the state threatened to stop the sale of milk in plastic pouches, the government on Tuesday asked the dairies to submit a detailed plan to put in place a mechanism for buyback of milk pouches from consumers, within the next two months.

Officials from the environment department said that dairy representatives were called for a meeting on Tuesday after dairies threatened to stop the sale of milk in plastic pouches, contending that plastic manufacturers have decided to go on indefinite strike from December 15.

Shiv Sena leader and Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam said that there is no ban on the use of plastic pouches for milk. “We have discussed all the issues in the meeting. I have asked the milk dairies to submit a buyback mechanism plan in the next two months. Everyone has agreed to this unanimously,” said Kadam, who chaired the meeting.

Besides representatives of the milk dairies, the meeting was attended by the Minister for Dairy Development Mahadev Jankar, MoS for Environment Pravin Pote, MoS for Dairy Development Arjun Khotkar; Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and NCP’s Ajit Pawar.

An official from the environment department said that Vikhe-Patil and Pawar have asked for six months’ time to come up with a buyback plan for milk pouches. “Some plastic manufacturing units were closed due to the plastic ban… these included some that supply pouches to these dairies. Now, the milk dairies have been asked to submit details of plastic pouches ordered from manufacturers. An undertaking will be taken from plastic manufacturers, stating that the pouches are exclusively for milk dairies. Then we will allow those manufacturing units,” said an official.

As per a notification issued by the department on March 23, milk dairies should use plastic bags not less than 50 microns in thickness for milk packaging. Besides, they should print a buy back price of not less than Rs 0.50 per pouch, to develop a buyback mechanism for recycling these pouches. The dairies were expected to set up such a mechanism by July 11. “Despite the lapse of the deadline, we were not insisting that milk dairies come up with a buyback mechanism considering the ongoing crisis in the sector,” said the official.

Meanwhile, Prakash Kutwal, secretary of the Milk Producers and Processors’ Welfare Association, said that some dairies have not received a response to the buyback mechanism.