In the milieu of rising environment consciousness and government strictures against pollution, a proactive drive towards paradigm shift in lifestyle by reducing exploitation of nature is a welcome sign. However, it also brings in a slew of confusion in accurately following certain guidelines.
The impracticality of changing the milk packs from plastic to a biodegradable cover within a short notice is one such example. The scale of planning, the operational cost and time for such a change is understandable.
It's in this context the initiatives of Milma and the Clean Kerala Company, a state government undertaking engaged in the cleaning mission, stand exemplary.
Milma and Clean Kerala tie up
Since the sudden change in the packaging of daily dairy products like milk is not feasible, the marketers or producers of such products have been asked by the government to envisage a system under the extended producer responsibility to ensure that plastic wastes generated by them are collected back. Milma, the co-operative entity that collects milk from farmers and distributes it, has joined hands with Clean Kerala Company to collect the empty plastic pouches and take them to recyclers.
Kesavan Nair, managing director, Clean Kerala Company, says that agencies like Haritha Karma Sena at the local self government bodies will collect the empty packs for recycling. "The Milma packs are different from the plastic material that has been banned. It's low density propylene which can be recycled and hence has got some value. There are recyclers too who have agreed to take Milma's plastic pouches. So there won't be a problem for the free flow of Milma milk packets," says Kesvan Nair.
"We are starting the project tentatively in four districts - Thiruvananthapuram, Alappuzha, Kottayam and Kannur - from December 1, " he adds.
What is extended producer responsibility
In the notification of Centre's waste management rules, the producers, distributors or brand owners who introduce plastic carry bags, sachets or pouches should establish a system to collect back the plastic waste generated due to their products.
As part of this initiative Milma will be paying Rs 4.72 per kilo of the plastic waste from its milk pouches to Clean Kerala Company, according to Wilson Puravakkattu, Managing Director of Milma's Kottayam unit.
"Plastic pouches used by Milma for packing milk don't fall under the category that has been banned. But we soon will find an alternative packaging system," says Wilson.