New Delhi: Traders' body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) in an open letter, on Friday, urged corporates and manufactures to amend their respective production lines to discontinue the use of single-use plastics before 2nd October.

The body urged companies operating in fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), consumer durables, daily use items, drugs and medicines and packaging sectors to discontinue using single-use plastic in their packaging.

CAIT’s open letter comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech in which he appealed to the nation to stop the use of single-use plastic.

The body has called a national conference of trade leaders of all states on 29 August in New Delhi to delineate on the issue and chalk out a strategy. CAIT said the step was taken as a preventive measure to protect traders from any punitive action that authorities may take after 2nd October, 2019.

The body has warned that in case companies both big and small fail to comply with the changes, traders across the country including distributors, wholesalers, retailers and others will be forced to boycott such single-use plastic products pan India.

There are about seven crore traders across country of which about five lakh traders work as distributors of FMCG products having more than 30 lakh retailers in the country. Any boycott of such products on a pan India basis is likely to disrupt sales of corporate manufacturers significantly.

There has been a strong focus on eliminating single-use plastic from various consumption cycles. According to recent media reports, the Indian Railways, for instance, has decided to enforce a ban on single-use plastic materials on its premises, including trains, with effect from 2 October.

Meanwhile, brands across categories are working on shifting to sustainable and recyclable packaging solutions. This is driven both by their internal sustainability agenda, as well as, a strong consumer demand towards brands that endorse more sustainable business practices.

While the local arm of American coffee chain Starbucks has said it will move to compostable and recyclable packaging solutions across its stores in India by June 2019, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF), which markets milk and dairy products under the Amul brand, said it uses recycled plastic for its milk packets.

“We use 100% virgin recyclable plastic in our milk packaging which is later recycled and used in the manufacturing of irrigation pipes etc. Amul has signed partnerships with recycling firms in every city and working with NGOs which work with rag pickers to collect the milk packets back which can be recycled. We are also encouraging the use of bigger milk packets by offering discounts. We are looking at design changes for our tetrapack beverages so that we can do away with straws. We will co-operate with the government," said R.S Sodhi, managing director, GCMMF, that sells dairy products under the Amul brand.

Hindustan Unilever (HUL) which owns brands such as Lifebuoy, Cornetto and Wheel, said it has committed to moving to 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025. In 2018, the company arranged for collection and environment friendly disposal of more than 20,000 tons of plastic laminate waste in partnership with NGOs and start-ups in more than 30 cities across India.

"We plan to scale it up further to cover more cities. We are also working with the government and other partners such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for end-to-end pilot projects for plastic waste management. We have partnered with international organisation Xynteo and have developed a curriculum to create awareness and drive behaviour change on waste segregation and recycling among school children and people in housing societies," said a HUL spokesperson in an emailed response.

Beverage maker Coca-Cola, on the other hand, has said all its primary packaging was completely recyclable and did not consist of single-use plastic. The company is in the process of redesigning and light-weighting its packaging keeping in mind consumer preferences while protecting the integrity of its products, increasing renewable and recycled material use supporting recycling programmes, the Coca Cola India spokesperson said.

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