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Paswan urges plastic bottle sector for single-use plastic alternatives
Tuesday, 10 September, 2019, 12 : 00 PM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Ram Vilas Paswan, minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, met key stakeholders from the plastic bottle industry and senior government officials from various ministries on Monday to find suitable alternatives to single-use plastic. During the meeting, various alternatives to plastics, including glass, metal, paper and natural polymers, were discussed.

The senior economic advisor from the ministry, at the onset, explained the various dangers associated with plastics. He stated that micro-plastics contaminated the soil and water resources, influenced animal tissues and also became active breeding grounds for mosquitoes, etc. Therefore, the need of the hour, he said, was to find suitable alternatives to plastic.

Paswan asserted that plastic played a major role in damaging environment and had an adverse impact on the health of human beings as well as animals. He added that kilos of plastic material was extracted from cows’ stomachs and collected from beaches in Mumbai and also choked our rivers such as Yamuna.

He added that recycling was not a permanent solution, and a permanent solution is that plastic should be banned and replaced. The minister also stated that there was a need to find an alternative, which was equally affordable and reliable. He said even paper bottles were not an alternative, as some plastic is mixed in them too.

Paswan asked manufacturers of packaged drinking water to come up with alternative packaging solutions in the next three days, and also asked all manufacturers to send their suggestions by September 11, 2019.

He informed that an inter-ministerial committee, under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary, has been formed to look into the issue of banning single-use plastic, either all at once or in a phased manner.

The suggestions, as received, would be sent to the inter-ministerial panel and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), after which the final decision would be taken by the government.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Paswan said that the ban would not affect employment. “On the contrary, the alternatives to plastic would create jobs,” he added.

The railway ministry, which manufactures and sell packaged drinking water under the Rail Neer brand, is also looking for alternatives, including inserting polymers to make the bottle biodegradable.

During the meeting, the status on various plastic materials presently allowed for packing of drinking water, including restrictions, both at the national and international levels, were discussed.

All the participants agreed that there is a need for innovation in recycling and finding new alternatives to develop packing materials, which were safe for use and in fighting the menace of environmental pollution.

The meeting was attended by several stakeholders, including Avinash K Srivastava, secretary, consumer affairs; director general, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS); FSSAI; CIPET and CSIR, along with officials from the Ministries of Environment and Forests, Jal Shakti, Petroleum, Railways and big private manufacturers, such as Bisleri, Kinley and Pepsi Co.
 
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