Dairy giant Amul, which needs around 12 lakh plastic straws every day for its Rs-10 products that are sold in tetrapaks, has even proposed setting up its own factories to manufacture paper straws.
“There is no infrastructure in India currently to manufacture that kind of volume. Manufacturers in other markets are asking for eight times more,” R S Sodhi, MD at GCMMF (Amul), told TOI. “We have said that we will set up our own lines, as it doesn’t entail huge costs. But this will take six months to a year.”
Similarly, Parle Agro, a major player in the category with its mango drink Frooti, has sought a six-month deferment to the ban to set up local manufacturing capabilities. This includes ordering machines, delivering them to vendors and getting authorised approvals before starting production.
“We have started importing paper straws to ensure the new rules are met by its deadline. Importing, however, is not a sustainable option,” said Schauna Chauhan, CEO, Parle Agro. “The percentage increase in the cost for importing PLA (biodegradable) and paper straws goes up by 259% and 278% respectively. The economics just does not match up for a Rs 10 product.”
Once manufacturing units are set up in India, the cost of paper straws will be slashed to nearly twice that of plastic straws but companies said they will be able to absorb the cost. “A six-month extension will help straw manufacturers in India build adequate capacity to manufacture and supply biodegradable straws to the beverage companies in India,” said Chauhan.