Big FMCG, agri-food companies switch to paper straws as plastic straw ban takes effect

With the ban on plastic straws taking effect from Friday, major FMCG companies and the food industry have removed integrated plastic straws from small tetra packs of fruit juices as well as dairy products and are switching to paper straws and other sustainable alternatives.

Leading companies including Parle Agro, Dabur, Amul and Mother Dairy have replaced the integrated plastic straws in tetra packs with alternative sustainable solutions.

Industry body Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons said FMCG companies were facing difficulties replacing plastic straws and that there would also be supply disruptions.

The companies are also facing problems such as residual inventory at their stockists and retailers, but they have complied with the government’s decision to ban single-use plastics by importing paper straws and whatever solution is available at markets, AARC said.

The ban on single-use plastics, including plastic straws, which was announced last year, came into effect on Friday.

Parle Agro, a leading player with popular brands like Frooti and Appy Fizz, has started integrating biodegradable straws in its tetra juice packs as per the new guidelines.

“Our production sites have started integrating biodegradable straws according to the new guidelines. For now, we are importing paper-based straws to meet the deadline and will switch to PLA-based straws,” Parle Agro CEO Shauna Chauhan told PTI.

PLA straws are compostable and made from corn starch or sugar cane.

“This will start once all our business partners’ PLA straw production machines are installed and commissioned, which will take several months. We have created infrastructure for the same by developing many local MSMEs as business partners to support us and take care of our volume of biodegradable straws,” she said.

Mother Dairy has been using imported paper straws for its juice and milk packaging, which has been in production since July 1.

“We, at Mother Dairy, adhere to the new norms and have already imported paper straws to ensure compliance. Our in-scope cartons manufactured from today (July 01, 2022) onwards will now come integrated with paper straws,” said Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable Managing Director Manish Bandlish.

Dabur, which sells its juices under the Real brand, has also started production with integrated paper straws.

“Dabur has now started manufacturing real juice packs with integrated paper straws. We are committed to complying with the regulations and will ensure that all packaging comes with integrated paper straws,” said Dabur India Chief Operating Officer Shahrukh Khan.

AARC Executive Director Praveen Agarwal said there will be a lot of discomfort and pain for retailers holding stock before June 30.

The industry and various bodies have asked for relief and greater clarity so that stocks that are being prepared by distributors and retailers can be used, he said, adding that about 2 million retailers who sell these products will face many problems. It is also possible that their products are sold without straws, in which case consumers will face a lot of inconvenience, he said.

“Of course, the industry will only go with what’s available and that will lead to disruption. Our members are respected corporates, no one would do anything that is not compliant,” Agarwal said.

However, he also said that in the compliance process, disruption will definitely happen because there are no alternatives.

The companies sought a six-month extension to remove integrated plastic straws from Tetra Packs. They pointed to various problems, including that the country lacks the technology to produce paper straws.

However, the local paper industry rejected these claims.

Last week, the Indian Paper Manufacturers Association said that the local paper industry has enough capacity and technological know-how to produce paper to make paper straws and other similar products.

Leading dairy cooperative Amul is also working on the production of biodegradable straws.

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