‘Recycling milk packets is a complex process’

Neha Basudkar
Sunday, 10 February 2019

“The dairies should set up a recycling plant, as the process should be reversible, which means people should give the milk packet back to the person who delivers the milk, who should give it to the distributor and the distributor should return it to the milk company,” Sivaram said.

PUNE: Recycling plastic milk packets is not a simple process. In fact, there are many aspects that need to be carefully checked, like cleaning it properly and checking if the printed ink is recyclable or not, etc. This was revealed by Dr Swaminathan Sivaram, a senior scientist from New Delhi’s Indian National Science Academy and honorary professor at city-based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).

Sivaram was speaking at a seminar on ‘Extended Producers’ Responsibility and Way Forward’ conducted at MCCIA by Indian Plastics Institute, All India Plastic Manufacturers Association and Associations for Promotion of Plastics, Pune.

The issue of recycling milk packets is being debated in Maharashtra with the milk industry’s association and the State government. 

Sivaram said that recycling milk packets can be hazardous for health if they are not washed properly. He told Sakal Times that the residual milk inside empty packets turns into acid within 24 hours and if recycled in the same condition, then it would prove harmful. 

The Padmashree awardee also said that there should be a check on the printed ink on the packet, whether it is right ink for recyclability or not. “The dairies should set up a recycling plant, as the process should be reversible, which means people should give the milk packet back to the person who delivers the milk, who should give it to the distributor and the distributor should return it to the milk company,” Sivaram said.

Prakash Kutwal, Secretary of the Milk Producers and Processors Association, however, had his reservations about this system. “I disagree with the reversible system because our job is only to produce milk and distribute it, and it is the civic body’s responsibility to reprocess and collect the packets.” He added, “However, we are not shrugging off the responsibility. We are in talks with several companies who are ready to reprocess the milk packets. Firstly, the reprocessing technique should be installed, and then recollecting technique should be stressed upon. People should share responsibility and act accordingly.”

INCENTIVISING THE WAY FORWARD
Sivaram suggested that incentivising return of used packets is an option. “In Japan and Korea, every metro station has incentivising machine where you have to put a plastic bottle inside the machine and they get 10 per cent off on their metro tickets,” he said.

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