Maharashtra Dairies in a fix over mechanism of Buy back of empty milk pouches

Pashu Sandesh, 24th June 2018

From today onwards Maharashtra government has implemented the ban on single-use plastic items (of use and throw nature). Devendra Fadnavis led state government, in a notification on March 23 this year, had banned the use of plastic to fight pollution caused due to its extensive use. The state government had given manufacturers, distributors, and consumers three months time to dispose their stock which ended today.

The state government has banned the use, manufacture, transport, wholesale and retail sale and storage, import of plastic bags, and disposable products made out of plastic and thermocol. The ban excludes plastic for packing medicines and drugs, a food grade virgin plastic used to package milk, compostable packing bags used for horticulture and agriculture purposes, bags used to export goods, plastic that is used for handling solid waste

As per the notification issued by the government on March 23, milk dairies should use plastic pouches of not less than 50 microns thickness for packaging of milk. Dairy operators are directed to set up a mechanism for buy back of empty milk pouches by July 11. Further the dairies should also print a buyback price, of not less than Rs 0.50, on the pouches. This would enable a mechanism for recycling of the plastic pouches.

Dairy operators of the state are finding it difficult to set up a mechanism for buy back of empty milk pouches. They are still awaiting clarity from the government on how such a mechanism will work. Officials of the Maharashtra State Cooperative Milk Federation, an apex body of milk unions, informed media that they have written to the state dairy development and environment departments seeking more information. They have asked for clarity on how to set up the recollection mechanism and how the refund system will work.

On the other hand the Officials from the environment department are saying that “We have clearly stated in the notification that milk dairies, retailers and traders should ensure buyback mechanism, collection and recycling system,” said an official.

Move by the Maharashtra Government is an example to other Governments. Buy back scheme of plastic pouches is a very novel idea and Dairy Cooperatives including AMUL should take a cue and implement similar schemes ASAP and contribute in the ongoing drive to save the environment.