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April 11, 2022

Indian government rejects calls to exempt straws from plastic ban

Straws packaged with small packs of juices and dairy products generate $790m in annual sales in India.

The Government of India has rejected demands from international and domestic beverage companies to exempt some plastic straws from a single-use ban, Reuters has reported.

Announced last August, the ban relates to the production, sale and use of a number of single-use plastic items. It is due to come into effect from July this year.

Items covered under this ban include plates, cups, glasses, cutlery and stirrers, as well as plastic or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) banners that are less than 100 microns thick.

The Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons (AARC), an industry group whose members include PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Parle Agro, Dabur and other milk firms, has urged the government to exclude straws from the ban, claiming that there are no viable alternatives.

AARC chief executive Praveen Aggarwal was quoted as saying: “We are worried as (the ban) comes during peak demand season. Consumers and brand owners will face major disruptions.”

Last week, the Indian environment ministry refused to obey the group’s demands for exemption, saying that the industry ‘should move towards (the) uptake of alternatives’.

The ministry added that the industry had been given more than a year’s notice of the change.

Aggarwal stated that the AARC ‘will try and convince the government again’ to exclude straws from the legislation.

Beverages available in small-pack formats in India include Dabur’s Real fruit juices, Pepsi’s Tropicana and Coca-Cola’s Maaza, as well as the Frooti mango drinks from Parle Agro.

Straws packaged with juice and dairy product packs generate $790m in annual sales in the country.

Some industry officials have said that the ban could cause disruption to the supply of juices and drinks, and that straw alternatives could increase production costs and impact businesses.

Last year, the Indian government passed a law making it mandatory to package all food grains and 20% of sugar in jute bags, in line with the Jute Packaging Material Act 1987.

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