Mumbai

Plastic milk pouches may make way for PET bottles

The rate of recycling PET bottles is 80% in India, which is far higher in comparison to other packaging materials.

The rate of recycling PET bottles is 80% in India, which is far higher in comparison to other packaging materials.   | Photo Credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE

Stakeholders in dairy industry says it is the ideal alternative as it is reusable, resealable and easy to collect

The dairy industry in the State is planning to package milk in PET bottles rather than plastic pouches to align with the Environment Ministry’s Extended Producer Responsibilities (EPR) guidelines.

In Maharashtra, 70% of the 1.7 crore litres of milk produced, is packed in plastic pouches and 2.4 crore milk pouches (500ml) are used every day. The State government had asked the dairy industry to set up a system of collecting used milk pouches, but consumers’ inability to wash and store pouches and the high cost of collecting used pouches led the industry to consider PET bottles.

Key stakeholders in the industry feel that it is the ideal alternative as it is reusable, resealable, easy to collect and the most-recycled plastic globally. The rate of recycling PET bottles is 80% in India, which is far higher in comparison to other packaging materials like tetra pak/brick cartons (5%-30%) and glass bottles (45%), according to industry estimates.

Prakash Kutwal, founder and chairman of Kutwal Foods, said, “It is not economically viable to collect used pouches. As recycled PET bottles attract a higher cost, the rate of their collection and recycling will also be high.”

Vishnu Hinge, chairman of Pune District Milk Producers Federation, said though tetra pak offers ease in transportation and attractive packaging options, it is not consumer-, business- or environment-friendly option, and will increase the cost of milk by ₹6 to ₹7 per litre.

In India, 12 lakh litres of milk is packed in PET bottles daily. Some of the big players in the State that use PET bottles for packaging fresh milk are Pride of Cows and Happy Milks.

Pramod Sonawane of Pride of Cows (Parag Dairy) said the demand for packaged milk bottles is very high. Mr. Sonawane said, “We are the pioneers in packaging milk in PET bottles, which has enabled easy storage and post-usage collection compared to pouches and other materials. Considering the competition in the dairy industry, it is essential to differentiate the brand from other competing brands. PET packaging offers unique benefits to consumers as they are easy to handle, resealable, shock-resistant and transparent.”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 4:52:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/plastic-milk-pouches-may-make-way-for-pet-bottles/article27098193.ece

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