Meeting finds no option for single use plastic bottles

Ram Vilas Paswan. File

Ram Vilas Paswan. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

A meeting to seek “suitable alternatives” for single use plastic bottles for drinking water called by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs Ministry concluded that as of now there is no viable alternative.

The meeting was attended by multiple bottle manufacturers, officials from Environment, Jal Shakti and other stakeholder ministries.

“The alternative needs to be affordable for the end consumers. The cost of a bottle worth ₹20 should not be pushed up to ₹50. The consumer’s trust is equally important. Currently a sealed plastic bottle with ISI mark gives them confidence. So whatever alternative we choose should also pass muster,” Consumer Affairs Minister Ramvilas Paswan said after the meeting.

The government will also have to surmount technical problems if it has to do away with plastic bottles.

“As per the current Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) a water bottle should be at least 85% transparent. If we are to switch to paper bottles we will have to change these standards. Also the paper bottles or tetra packs use traces of plastic to make it sturdy enough to hold liquid,” Secretary, Consumer Affairs, Avinash K Srivastava explained.

The bottle manufacturers argued during the meeting that at least 80-90% of the P.E.T (polyethylene terephthalate) are recycled. “Pet bottle is not a single use plastic. It’s fully recyclable plastic. Thanks to the network of rag pickers and recyclers at least 92% of these are being recycled,” Behram Mehta, representative of the National Mineral Water Association who attended the meeting said.

Mr. Mehta said the drinking water industry is worth ₹30,000 crore and together with the beverages industry it employs nearly seven crore people and no knee-jerk action should be taken.

“If we are looking at glass as an alternative then let me tell you glass bottles have a far higher carbon footprint,” he added.

The plastic manufacturers said that before the government takes any forward step it needs to clarify what exactly is “single use plastic.”

“Today’s meeting was called to seek an alternative to plastic bottles and ultimately we have concluded that so far there is no alternative. If there is a “nadir Shahi” ban then it may be a chaotic situation in the nation,” Manoj Kumar Agarwala, one of the manufacturers said.

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Printable version | Mar 26, 2020 8:36:47 AM |

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