KOCHI: The state government-run dairy federation, Milma, which has over 330 milk co-operative societies in Ernakulam district, one of the biggest markets for Milma in the state, is set to hike the prices of pasteurised milk. While a major portion of the increase will be directed to farmers, a part of it will be spent on restraining single-use plastic consumption. The federation is formulating plans to manage the plastic waste generated from the milk packets distributed under its brand.
While the proposal is yet to be finalised, Milma’s board has decided to associate with Clean Kerala Company, formed under the local-self government department, to undertake collection and recycling of plastic milk packets. “The board has scheduled to hold a meeting this week to decide on the quantum of price hike and the quotation sent by Clean Kerala,” said Patil Suyog Subhashrao, managing director of Milma.
According to Clean Kerala, the proposition to collect milk packets will happen through three different channels. “Though we are still brainstorming for expedient alternatives, the proposal sent to Milma details three channels. One would be to involve the municipality which is responsible for amassing waste from households and procuring recyclable waste directly from them. The second is to build a network of ragpickers and scrap dealers who would segregate the packets and sell them to us. The third idea, which would require an intensive campaign before being launched, is to ask students of schools and colleges to bring used milk packets from their homes and drop them in a collection box set up on the premises,” said Kesavan Nair, managing director, Clean Kerala Company Limited.
However, questions are being raised whether the mammoth task of collecting the packets from the consumers would at all be feasible considering Milma supplies around 31 lakh milk packets of different variants to households in Kerala every morning. “Ernakulam is one of the biggest markets for Milma dairy products. I don’t think a marginal increase in milk price will go a long way in plastic pack reduction. The only effective way to do that is to change the current packaging to tetra packs but that will prove to be a huge burden on the consumer.
And the current proposal to collect all the used packets for recycling is almost impossible to carry out in a full-fledged manner in a city like Kochi. In most areas, the waste collection is not segregated and the plan of collecting packets from students will encounter hurdles as a blanket collection drive is not practical. Moreover, other players will continue to use plastic packets,” observed Jose Jacob, district officer for Department of Dairy Development.