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Maharashtra Dairy Industry Still Divided Over Packaging Alternatives

10 May 2019

INDIA - While the state government is considering a complete ban on the use of plastic poly packs for packaging milk, key stakeholders from Maharashtra dairy industry still seem to be divided on what could be the best alternative to the plastic pouches.

In December 2018, environment minister Ramdas Kadam, who had helmed the ban, had met a delegation of dairy representatives and gave them a two-month period to evolve an alternative, which is still stuck.

While a group of milk producers in order to better align with the extended producer responsibilities (EPR) guidelines set by the environment ministry said that they were considering PET bottles as an alternative to packaged milk, leading brands including Amul and Gokul expressed their doubts over PET bottled milk becoming a reality mainly due to a substantial rise in the costs and huge investments involved, which will have to be borne by the consumers.

Vishnu Hinge, Chairman, Pune District Milk Producers Federation informed that they were studying if the shift towards using PET bottles are a viable option.

"However if PET bottles are to be considered everything from the production line, machines to even delivery crates will have to change and it will certainly mean a rise in cost," he said.

Prakash Kutwal of the Milk Producers and Processors' Welfare union, which is an umbrella body of over 200 co-operative and private units and also the founder and chairman of Kutwal Foods that sells milk under Urja brand shared that almost all used milk pouches were sold for prices as high as Rs 22 per kg to scrap vendors.

"If we consider the alternatives, a shift towards PET bottles is desirable compared to other packaging materials like tetra pack or glass bottles as collection of used PET bottles will be far easier compared to milk pouches. However, one cannot forget that introduction of PET bottles will come at a cost and milk being an essential commodity is used by everyone so pricing is a key," he pointed.

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Source: DNA India

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