Drinks firms spooked as India refuses to exempt plastic straws from ban

India has rejected demands from large global and domestic beverage firms to exempt some plastic straws from a ban that takes effect on July 1, fanning fears of disruption in a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Representative image
Representative image

NEW DELHI: The ban on items such as straws packaged with small packs of juices and dairy products that earn $790 million in annual sales is part of India’s drive to stamp out polluting, single-use plastic trash that chokes rivers and drains.

“We are worried as this comes during peak demand season,” said Praveen Aggarwal, chief executive of an industry group, Action Alliance for Recycling Beverage Cartons (AARC), referring to India’s sweltering summer temperatures.

“Consumers and brand owners will face major disruptions.” For months, his alliance, which groups PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, India’s Parle Agro, Dabur and milk firms, has lobbied for the straws to be exempted, saying there were no alternatives. Aggarwal’s comments came after the environment ministry rejected the group’s demands, telling it in an April 6 memo that the industry “should move towards uptake of alternatives”, after being given more than a year’s notice of the change.

The environment ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pepsi declined comment, while Coca-Cola and other companies did not respond to queries.

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