FMCG beverage companies defy ban so far

Maharashtra bans plastics and 250 ml PET bottles

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On 2 January 2018, Maharashtra’s environment department stated that the government intends to ban certain plastic sheets, flexes, banners and flags as well as disposable material made up of plastic and thermocol such as plates, cups, glasses, forks, bowls and spoons.

According to the Maharashtra Plastics and Thermocol Products (manufacture, usage, sale, transport, handling and storage) notification, on 23 March 2018, the government
banned the manufacturing, use, distribution, wholesale, retail sale, import and transportation of all kinds of plastic bags (with or without handle), single-use disposable items made of plastic and thermocol – dish, cups, plates, glasses, fork, bowls and spoons among others. It also banned plastic and thermocol items used for decoration.

On the same day, the ban was extended to the manufacture and sale of PET bottles having a liquid holding capacity of less than 0.5 litres. In the past few weeks there have also
been widespread media reports of studies that have have found plastic particles in PET bottles used for drinking water by multiple manufacturers on basis of samples collected
in 18 countries.

The government has thus far levied fines of Rs 5,000 for violating the plastics ban. According to news reports, with opposition from several industry stakeholders against the
ban, the state government doesn’t want to spell out the penalty in the initial stages. Local administration across the state will be asked to start collection points to accept the banned items from the consumers while traders and manufacturers will have to look for recycling facilities to dispose their goods.

The state government of Maharashtra also imposed a ban on the sale of alcohol in plastic bottles from 1 April 2018. Much flak has come from industry and trade with the All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA) writing to the Maharashtra chief minister urging him to quash the resolution. AIPMA argued that there hasn’t been a single
casualty in the world due to PET packaging in the past 35 years.

However, Maharashtra-based FMCG companies selling beverages in PET bottles have not stopped distribution of their wares in 250 ml PET bottles. As of the last week of March, beverage companies such as Bisleri, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have not made changes to their PET bottle sizes. Nadia Chauhan, joint managing director of Parle Agro, the
makers of Bailey water bottles, Frooti and Appy, said that she needed more time to come-up with a suitable strategy to combat the ban. Companies such as Coca-Cola are said
to be silent. Vimal Kedia, managing director of Manjushree Technopak said the ban on PET bottles below 250 ml has been made only in Maharashtra and since it is not possible
to shift production lines overnight, stakeholders are making another presentation to the state government to work along with them for management of plastic waste in the state.

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