Ministry of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries have requested milk cooperatives to form a strategy to reduce, rebate and reuse milk pouches to save the environment.
A high-level meeting held in the national capital saw the animal husbandry ministry requesting Amul and Mother Dairy to formulate an action plan and protocol to recycle milk pouches and share with the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying for circulation to other milk federations for implementation.
The meeting was attended by senior officers of state cooperative dairy federations, CEOs, Managing Directors of private dairies, representatives from the ministry of women & child development, school education and literacy, commerce & Industries, National Dairy Development Board & APEDA.
According to the official statement, major dairy federations like Gujarat Milk Federation (Amul), Karnataka Milk Federation (Nandini), Punjab Milk Federation (Verka), Maharashtra Milk Federation (Mahanand) to encourage reuse of plastic milk pouches, in a campaign mode.
The ministry added that the 3R strategy should be incorporated in their action plan – Reduce, Rebate and Reuse, i.e. reduce the use of plastics by subsidising the price of 1 litre pack over ½ litre pack, rebate to customers for bringing back plastic packs, reuse of pouches for users such as road construction, recyclers.
Secretary of animal husbandry and dairying reportedly requested all cooperative milk federations and private dairies to at least halve plastic use by Gandhi Jayanti (October 2nd).
Milk in India is processed and marketed by 170 milk producers’ co-operative unions and 15 state cooperative milk marketing federations. Out of them the Anand Milk Union Limited or AMUL in Gujarat is the world’s largest producer of milk and milk products. The Indian dairy cooperative also holds a record of the longest running ad campaign in the world.
However, the plastic pouches used for milk sale forms one-third of the garbage collection comprising of mother dairy and Amul milk and buttermilk pouches along with yogurt and ice cream cups. Only the packets collected by rag pickers get recycled while the rest of them end up clogging drains, rivers, lakes, creating sewage and toxic foam.
All ‘single-layer’ plastic garbage analysis revealed that 57 percent of it is only Mother Dairy and Amul milk packets, the India Today reported in 2018. Despite having a high-recyclable value, companies do not have any proper mechanism to deal with these pouches hence they are left at the helm of rag pickers only.
There has been reports that the plastic bags which vary from 50-55 microns thickness can be granulated and used to manufacture irrigation pipes. Now with the ministry asking for an action plan, we are hopeful that they will work out a way to create a network of rag pickers, creating job opportunities and later use the food-grade plastic for other uses like pipes.