The problem:

Milk bags are everyday garbage. Almost each and every house generate this waste atleast once a day. In a coastal city like Mumbai, one can see how these bags end up along the shores in heaps of garbage. Plastic is single-handedly the biggest destructor of the planet and plastic milk bags are constant contributors to it.

An inspiration:

milk bag project mumbai
Kunti Oza, Hansu Pardiwala and Chitra Hiremath

In 2019, three friends living in South Mumbai, Kunti Oza, Hansu Pardiwala and Chitra Hiremath received a Whatsapp forward. The post created awareness about the little snips that are cut-off milk bags. These small bits are fairly difficult to recycle and can be a huge nuisance. 

These three ladies were involved in environmental and cleanliness work for a long time. Initially, Hansu is associated with ‘Har Ghar, Hara Ghar’, Kunti works as a chairperson for ‘Clean Mumbai Foundation’ and Chitra with ‘Garbage Free India’. After being highly impressed by this post they decided to act upon it. 

“What the post was promoting was not a big task. And we realized that milk consumption in the city was obviously huge because a majority of the garbage on the beaches seems to comprise such packets. We all discussed this amongst ourselves and thought, ‘Why not act on this together?’,” tells Kunti.

They also wanted to get other people on board for this project. The post cautioned consumers to keep the plastic snip intact but these ladies decided to go a step further. A campaign was set up to commit these packets to further recycling. 

The ‘Milk Bag Project’:

They tried this model at their homes first. After a few successful tries, they shot a video explaining how to follow the proper procedure. And that’s how the ‘Milk Bag Project’ started. 

“The proper way was to cut it in a straight line instead of snipping the edge off and that got us thinking. We realized that a large part of the plastic waste that finds its way onto the beaches and naalahs are the milk bags. We also saw that the ragpickers were not interested in this form of waste and were not collecting these milk bags,” says Kunti Oza. 

Spreading the idea:

This video was forwarded in Whatsapp groups. The project was initiated in Cuffe Parade and the immediate surroundings as they had access to the building under the CPRA (Cuffe Parade Residents’ Association). The response they received was quite motivating. People started joining in effortlessly. People even wanted to volunteer from far-off places. Soon, people at different places started pooling their bags and sending them to the milk bag project at the end of every month. 

milk bag project mumbai
Collection of plastic

In the first month, they collected roughly around 20 kgs of plastic bags. Slowly, but consistently the collection increased. Up to July 2020, they were instrumental in collecting over 2, 45, 000 bags. That’s about 700 kgs of plastic not ending up in landfills or water bodies. 

To keep up with their consistent efforts the group has tied up with two registered recyclers, Dalmia Polypro and Shakti Plastics. They have their network spread over western and southern India, playing a key role in waste management. 

Small bumps in the road:

The pandemic was a littlemilk bag project bump in their initiative. All the while they were still in touch with the different groups. As soon as things started getting back on track, they resumed their activities with the same enthusiasm.

Logistics is a bit of an issue for the team as the recyclers are located outside of Mumbai. They also need to keep in mind the minimum quantity of 80 to 100 kgs. This results in hoarding this waste at their homes for long times. 

Reaching far and wide:

milk bag project mumbai
A mega effort

During the recent environmental day event, teamed up along with various other organizations to promote the ‘Go Green with Tetra Pack’ initiative along the Cuffe Parade/Colaba area.

After influencing residential places, they have now moved on to several institutions. The World Trade Center, IDBI, Cricket Club of India (CCI), Bombay Stock Exchange, Leopold Café, Hotel Diplomat, Maharashtra State Lawn Tennis Association (MSLTA), Sailors Home, LIC to US Club, Fort Convent School, Royal Bombay Yacht Club, and the Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC) have been contributing regularly to this initiative. 

Even people from cities like Thane, Bangalore and Delhi are sending them milk bags, moreover at their own cost, by post. 

These responsible citizens are doing their part for the environment one milk bag at a time.

If you want to contribute to their initiative write to them at, [email protected] 

Keep getting inspired by their work at, https://www.facebook.com/Milk-Bag-Project-106259381463219/posts

Read about more such change-makers at:

Shelf life enhancer: Dr. Jagadis Kapuganti’s innovation

Dr, Bio’s compostable bioplastic from corn starch

Stevia cultivation; IT consultant help farmers

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