Citing pollution caused due to single-use plastic bottles, the government asked Pepsi, Coca Cola and other manufacturers of packaged drinking water to find alternative packaging method.
Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday held a meeting with the manufacturers and told them the government's intent of reducing pollution.
"Plastic has a big role to play in a damaging environment as well as the health of human beings and animals. We have seen reports of huge quantity of plastics found in stomach of cow," the minister told reporters in New Delhi.
He informed that an inter-ministerial committee, under the chairmanship of cabinet secretary, has been formed to look into the issue of banning single use plastic in one go or phased manner.
Stating that recycling is not a permanent solution, Paswan said there is a need to find an alternative, which is equally affordable and reliable. He said even pure paper bottle is not an alternative as some plastic is mixed.
"We have not got any concrete alternative of packaged drinking water during this meeting. Therefore, I have asked all manufacturers to send their suggestions by September 11," the minister said, adding that these recommendations would be sent to the inter-ministerial panel and the Prime Ministers Office (PMO).
He said that the final decision will be taken by the government.
Manufacturers, however, expressed reservations.
Speaking on the sidelines, All India Association of Natural Mineral Water Industry Secretary Behram Mehta said the packaged bottle water industry uses PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which is 100 per cent recyclable and even used globally.
He said the industry has achieved 92 per cent recycling and will soon achieve 100 per cent.
Mehta, who is MD of AVA Natural Mineral, said the bottled water industry is worth Rs 30,000 crore. The entire plastic industry is worth Rs 7.5 lakh crore and involves seven crore people.
Mehta stressed that paper, glass and steel are neither affordable alternatives nor environment-friendly.
(With inputs from PTI)
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