India’s largest dairy group Amul has written to the government to delay a planned ban on small plastic straws, saying the move will have a “negative impact” on farmers and dairy farmers, the biggest producers of milk in the world.
Amul made the appeal on May 28 in a letter reviewed by Reuters, which was sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office ahead of a July 1 ban on juices and small packets of hay packed with dairy products, a market estimated by the industry body worth $790 million. Amul sells billions of tiny milk cartons with plastic straws every year.
Reuters earlier reported that the decision surprised global beverage companies, including Amul and PepsiCo Inc and Coca-Cola, especially after the government refused to change its stance and asked companies to switch to alternative straws.
In its letter, signed by Managing Director RS Sodhi, the $8 billion Amul group said the straws help promote milk consumption, and called for the ban—part of PM Modi’s drive to stamp out polluting, single-use plastic—to be postponed for a year.
A delay would “provide huge relief and benefit” to 100 million dairy farmers who “safeguard our food security in terms of milk and milk products,” Sodhi wrote.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office did not respond to Reuters request’s for comment.
A source familiar with the government’s thinking has previously told Reuters the straws were a “low-utility product,” which should be replaced with paper straws or packs with re-designed spouts instead.
Sodhi declined to comment on his letter, but said Amul may have to sell packs without straws once the ban kicks in from July 1.
Priced from ₹5 to 30, small packs of beverages containing juices and dairy products are popular in India and represent a large market segment for these beverages.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat is also popular for plastic bags containing Amul milk, cheese and chocolates.
Praveen Aggarwal of Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons, which represents drinks’ majors, said companies were considering importing paper straws from China, Indonesia and other nations in light of the upcoming ban.
“There will be disruption,” he said.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter said Parle has also written a letter to the Indian government, saying there was not enough local production of alternative straws, and imported paper and biodegradable variants were around 250 percent more expensive.
Parle Agro’s Chief Executive Schauna Chauhan said the company had started importing paper straws for now, but it was unsustainable. “The economics just does not match up for a 10 rupee product,” she said.