Maharashtra plastic ban: Beverage, dairy firms focus on recycling

IN THE WAKE of the recent ban on everyday use of plastic in Maharashtra, dairy and beverage companies are planning to formalise informal recycling initiatives, currently part of the firms’ corporate social responsibility. Maharashtra became the 18th state to ban plastic. Stiff penalties will be introduced and violators will even face a jail term. The western state is among the largest generators of plastic waste in the country. The use of plastic bags, single-use disposable items such as cups, straws, plates, forks, spoons and spreadsheets is prohibited.

As a result, retailers and consumers are feeling the heat of the move. Retailers across suburbs such as Santacruz, Khar and Bandra and in central areas like Worli said they had stopped using plastic bags. They said they were asking customers to not use them as well.

The dairy and beverage companies have been given around three months to come up with an alternative packaging plan or set up recycling plants to reduce plastic waste.

Commenting on the ban, Mr. R.S. Sodhi, Managing Director, GCMMF, said, “A notification on the said proposal is yet to be issued. In terms of thickness, Amul plastic pouches are of 60 microns and above. This is higher than the 50-micron threshold limit set by the State government for the thickness of plastic pouches. We are looking at the matter closely, since Maharashtra, and Mumbai, in particular, is an important market for us.” Amul is ranked among the top pouch milk brands in the city.

In contrast, beverage firms such as Bisleri International have polyethyleneterephthalate (PET) recycling initiatives running in Mumbai. These will be implemented on a wider scale, company officials said. Coca-Cola India said it was reviewing the matter, while PepsiCo said it was working with the Packaging Association of Clean Environment to promote recycling of PET.

PET bottles are widely used in the domestic beverage industry. Health experts have often cautioned about the health risks attached with the excessive use of plastic, prompting the national as well as local governments here to take up the matter seriously.