Maharashtra: In a month's time, your neighbourhood to be polypack waste free

Environment minister Ramdas Kadam said the buyback scheme for milk poly packs would be implemented within a month

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Maharashtra: In a month's time, your neighbourhood to be polypack waste free
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Claiming that plastic waste in Maharashtra had reduced by 50% since the implementation of the ban on plastic in 2018, environment minister Ramdas Kadam said the buyback scheme for milk poly packs would be implemented within a month.

The state government's ban on disposable, single-use plastic and plastic products saw the introduction of a buyback and refund scheme for milk polypacks. Consumers were to pay a refundable minimum of 50 paise per polypack above the market price. This would be refunded after the return of the used polypack to retailers for recycling.

However, the scheme was not been implemented as dairies claimed "practical difficulties."

"Plastic waste amounting to 1,200 ton per day was being generated. This has reduced by 600 ton. We have managed to bring down this waste by 50%," said Kadam, while speaking in the state legislative assembly on a calling attention motion on Thursday.

He added that milk producers would implement the refundable deposit-based buyback scheme within a month.

"There will be no hike in rates for consumers. This will be implemented in a month. It will ensure that 31-ton plastic and 1 crore polypacks will not be strewn on the road daily," Kadam claimed.

Kadam admitted that plastic was being brought into the city illegally from Vapi and Gujarat. He said he had conducted raids at night on the Gujarat border to seize trucks bringing in this plastic, and officials had also raided godowns where it had been stored. Kadam added so far, they had seized 938 tons of plastic and collected 1.20 lakh of it.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had issued directions to states to formulate a ban on plastic on lines of that to Maharashtra.

The state had 24 companies which recycled plastic with a capacity to process 530 tons daily. Plastic was recycled to make buckets, benches and granules. It was also supplied to cement companies and based on directions from the central government, was being mixed in tar for topping the upper layer of roads.

However, milk producers and distributors unions claimed the buyback scheme was tough to implement.

"We have already launched a buyback system. A couple of months ago, some producers have begun printing a buyback price of 50 paise per 500 ML and Re 1 per 1 litre polypack. However, the response from people is poor," said Prakash Kutwal of the Milk Producers and Processors' Welfare union, which is an umbrella body of co-operative and private units.

He added there were practical difficulties in implementing the scheme. For instance, if consumers returned unwashed polypacks, it could create hygiene issues at the retailers' end.

The members of the union had met Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials to seek land for a unit to process plastic waste. "However, no system and mechanism that is 100% practical have been evolved. The end-user is not cooperating," he admitted.

While Maharashtra's daily liquid milk production in the organised and unorganised sector is over 2 crore litres, it has slipped to around 1.70 crore due to drought. Of this, around 85 to 90 lakh litres milk is consumed domestically. Kutwal said around 20 lakh of this milk was sold loose and the remaining in polypacks. "Around 40% of this polypack milk is sold in 200 and 250ML pouches in low-income group areas and slums, and of the remaining 60%, 40% is sold in half-litre packs and 20% in one-litre packs," he explained.

Cow's milk forms around 70% of the collections.

Mumbai's lucrative but highly unorganised milk market has a presence of around 175 small and large brands. Though the city sees around 55 lakh litres of milk being sold, about 40 lakh litres is in packaged form in polypacks or tetrapacks, while the rest is sold loose, especially in the slum pockets, where people buy in smaller quantities.

Kutwal claimed that around 90% of milk polypacks were sold by consumers to scrap dealers due to the higher price that they commanded. This was recycled to manufacture granules, drip irrigation sets, pipes and buckets.

Tall Claims

  • Environment minister Ramdas Kadam said the buyback scheme for milk poly packs would be implemented within a month 
  • He also claimed that the amount of plastic waste in state had reduced by 50% since implementation of plastic ban in 2018 
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