INDIA – Parle Agro, one of the largest Indian beverage companies, has requested the government of India to extend the deadline for the implementation of the ban on the plastic straw which is set to be effective from July.

India produces and sells a total of 6 billion packs of juice boxes with plastic straws attached each year while dairy companies also use carton boxes with straws to sell their products.

In August 2021, the country introduced a ban on single-use plastic, including plastic straws, in an effort to tame runaway environmental pollution.

Parle Agro views the move to ban plastics as hasty and opines that it will negatively impact the overall businesses in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) countrywide.

The company said: “While Parle Agro endorses the government-led ban on the use of plastic straws, our plea is to postpone the implementation of the injunction by six months.”

According to the company, India produces and sells around 6 billion packs of paper-based beverage cartons with integrated plastic straws per annum.

This new rule will force Packaging companies to reinvest in the right infrastructure to accommodate the changes which will require time to ensure the alternative is appropriate and cost-effective.

The company also says there is no current local manufacturer who can accommodate the available demand to provide alternatives like biodegradable PLA straws or paper straws as they produce approximately 1.3 million units per day, which is less than the actual requirement.

Exploring the possibilities of importing straws seems futile as the average cost will rise by 6 to 8 times more, making the cost of the product unaffordable, particularly products that are targeted at urban and rural markets.

Parle Agro, CEO Schauna Chauhan said: “Even getting approvals from regulatory bodies after appropriate testing to manufacture paper straws will require time. While the transition process has already begun, the short deadline is a matter of great concern.”

Following the explanation, it made, the company suggested the ban be lifted for another 6-8 months to allow the players in the industry to make necessary changes in technology that will lead to a smooth transition to environment-friendly alternatives.

The use of the new alternative options to plastic straws may force these companies to abandon their preferred, affordable price point of ₹10(US$0.13) per unit.

While the food industry has seamlessly moved to disposable wooden cutlery, bypassing the added cost will mean a transfer of cost to end customers.

The beverage manufacturers are worried about the cost going to be incurred within this short period of transition as it is approximated that the rise would be 122% by Parle’s Chauhan.

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