Artists across the country fashion elegant tableware from discarded glass bottles, shining light on the possibilities of upcycling
Glass bottles are all-weather friends. While recycling can be cost and resource-intensive, entrepreneurs are now looking at upcycling glassware as a viable alternative. Glass artists across India have taken to creating elegant tableware from discarded glass bottles: fashioning sleek tumblers, platters and serveware from discards that once only went to neighborhood raddiwala.
Kavi — The Poetry-Art Project, founded in 2012 in Noida, is an independent collective that creates upcycled pop art, with a focus on sustainability. Its range is a mosaic of upcycled tumblers, platters and storage jars. They claim to have saved over 6,00,000 bottles from landfills in eight years.
Founder-partner, Madhuri Balodi explains, “We procure bottles from wholesale as well as local scrap dealers. We start with segregation, according to quality, followed by a rigorous clean-up operation. Then the bottles are cut, edges are buffed to soften the rim, and polished, followed by a final cleaning.”
For the storage jars, large bottles are cut at the base and fitted with cork stoppers, so you have functional snack holders. The brand has supplied its glassware to cafés across India. “They make sustainable and quirky gifting options as well,” adds the entrepreneur. Their sustainable serveware is sold via social media and their website (www.kavipoetryart.in).
Whereas, Iwas Products, a Goa-based venture engages the local community to keep glass off the beach and footpaths, in a State that sees high tourist footfall through the year. “Being an industrial designer, I realised whatever I made would end up in the landfill. So I decided to reverse the process,” says Mikhail Solanki, who founded Bôtl in January 2015, which was the base idea for Iwas, and managed it with his partner Rhea Kanuga, before Maurice Britto and Dale Menezes from Goa, and a Belgian collaborator, Dries Moens, hopped on board.
Initially the bottles were sanded, rounded and polished by hand, but the unit uses the same process as the glass industry now, polishing the edges of the glass with fire. Raw materials come from restaurants, locals and scrap dealers “Our production capacity is 800-1,500 units a day, hoping to upcycle upto 1 lakh bottles a year. We want to get Indians more excited about using eco-friendly products as a first choice,” states Solanki, whose unit also personalises tumblers in bulk, for events and establishments. Currently the company sells in India, via its website (www.iwasproducts.com) and social media and supplies patrons in the EU, via its operations in Belgium.
Radhika Krish, a formally trained glass artist, set up Goli Soda Glass studio in Chennai in 2018 and uses only discarded glass for her translucent art. “I live very close to the ocean and during my beach clean-up initiatives, I saw a lot of bottles and window glass thrown away.” Her range of tableware includes funky egg trays, chip and dip platters, fruit bowls and beverage tumblers. The artist who conducts workshops on glass art, sources bottles from restaurants in her vicinity and beach clean-up NGOs like Namma Beach Namma Chennai.
“I go about upcycling using a technique called kiln forming. A kiln is like an oven where the heat changes the solid glass into its molten state and it is at this stage the glass can take on a shape,” says Radhika. So what does it really cost to upcycle ? “The kiln is an expensive investment that could burn a hole in your pocket, anywhere between, two and 10 lakh rupees. Ten to 15 units of electricity are consumed per firing. So far I’ve upcycled over 2000 bottles and counting. It truly is a labour of love,” adds the artist who is now busy fashioning Christmas ornaments with discarded window panes. Orders are taken via Whatsapp or social media (@golisodaglassstudio).