After ban on plastic pouches, Maharashtra dairy owners threaten to sell loose milk

Dairies in Maharashtra have threatened to sell loose milk instead of the present system of selling milk in plastic pouches. Accusing the government of holding dairy sector to ransom under the garb of plastic ban, Maharashtra dairy owners have yet again expressed their helplessness in being able to come up with a buyback mechanism for milk plastic pouches.

Dairy owners have instead asked the government to direct state-run dairies like Aarey Milk and Mahananda Dairies to come up with a successful pilot for the buyback mechanism, which they said they are willing to follow, Vinayakrao Patil, president, Maharashtra Milk Producers and Processors Association said after a meeting of cooperative and private dairy owners in Pune.

If these dairies fail to come up with successful pilot and the government still insists on dairy owners to come up with a buyback mechanism for the sector, then dairy owners shall stop providing milk in plastic pouches and sell milk in loose form through milk tankers or provide the entire milk stocks to the milk powder industry where there is a good demand.

As part of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) plan under the plastic ban, milk producers have to inform the government how they will collect and recycle empty plastic pouches.

Dairy owners have devised a buyback mechanism plan for Pune city alone. They have sought land from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to set up a processing plant for plastic. While the requirement is for processing some 12 tonne per day, dairy owners are willing to set up a plant for 30 tonne per day. The PMC, however, has not responded positively so far. The owners say, it is impossible for them to plan for such buyback schemes across the state.

On an average, around 85 lakh litres of milk is sold through plastic pouches on a daily basis across the state. In Pune, nearly 15 lakh litres of milk is sold daily in plastic pouches.

Maharashtra environment minister Ramdas Kadam had stated that milk suppliers have only been told to ensure a proper ‘buy-back’ scheme of used pouches, which they have not yet done. Dairy owners have also sought the pending dues of Rs 350 crore of the subsidy of Rs 5 per litre to dairy farmers and have given a deadline till July 30 to the government, failing which they have threatened to stop milk procurement.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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