NEW DELHI : Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday asked producers of packaged drinking water to come up with alternative packaging solutions in the next three days as part of efforts to cut down consumption of single use plastic.

The minister also asked all manufacturers to send their suggestions by 11 September, said an official statement. The instruction came at a meeting Paswan held here with plastic bottle industry players where various alternatives to plastic including glass, metal, paper and natural polymers were discussed, said the statement. The meeting was attended by executives representing leading brands including Bisleri, Kinley and PepsiCo.

The minister informed the industry that a panel led by cabinet secretary has been set up to look into the issue of banning single use plastic either all at once or in a phased manner. “The suggestions as received would be sent to the inter-ministerial panel and to the Prime Ministers’ Office (PMO) after which a final decision would be taken by the government," said the statement. Paswan sought to reassure that a ban on single use plastic will not affect employment as the ‘alternative to plastic’ would create jobs.

The Railway ministry which sells packaged drinking water under the 'Rail Neer' brand is also looking for alternatives including inserting polymers to make the bottle biodegradable, said the statement.

Last month, in his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for phasing out single use plastic.

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