Delhi-based Plasticvalla makes artwork with used plastic
Manveer Singh — known as the ‘Plasticvalla’ — has successfully converted over 350 kgs of used plastic into artwork. Every week, he collects plastic waste from more than 70 families in his neighbourhood and repurposes it to create never-before-seen artwork with a strong message against plastic pollution.
An art teacher by profession, Manveer has sold three artworks overseas — one in Germany and two in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
“The people and the neighbourhoods from where I collect plastic started calling me Plasticvalla, just like people call kabadiwalla, koodewalla and the name stuck with me. I use hard to recycle plastic in the same way a painter uses paint,” says Manveer.
Post completing his Master’s in Fine Arts from the College of Art, Delhi, Manveer started his journey as Plasticvalla in 2018 after he realised the need to reduce the consumption of hard to recycle plastic found in every household.
Further, while creating landscape paintings in his birthplace Haridwar, he witnessed how the environment has transformed due to plastic waste.
“The transition from Haridwar to an urban city like Delhi shook me. I think, in the coming years, our footprints will be calculated basis the plastic we use. Use of single-use plastic is only growing across the world, and coming up with innovative ways to recycle it is a challenge we face today,” he says.
Describing how he started initially, Manveer adds, “In the beginning, I asked local ragpickers to collect waste for me. However, they refused as Multi-Layered Plastic is very lightweight and hard to collect. Only after getting refused, I went from door to door to collect it. Now, I get clean plastic waste directly from households, which, in turn, eases off the landfills’ loads.”
To inculcate the habit of consuming less plastic, Manveer also distributed a ‘habit-changing box’ in his neighbourhood, where people can collect their waste plastic. When full, people send it back to him for recycling. These boxes are made by local women at home.
For his creations, Manveer primarily uses MLP or plastic with a recycling code seven. So far, Plasticvalla has made close to 12 artworks using bases like boards, tapestry, metal, mirror, and so on, each taking an average of two to three months to create.
Recently, he installed a 15-feet Olive Ridley sea turtle artwork made completely of plastic waste at Puri beach, Odisha. The artwork comprises 200-250 small turtles made with plastic. For this, he collected over 50 kgs of MLP.
“Through this project, I will engage with the people of Bhubaneswar to create awareness about plastic pollution. Also, Rabindranath Sahu — a hero who devoted his entire life to cleaning this beach to create a safe and hygienic environment for these turtles — inspired me.”
In fact, to spread awareness among children, Manveer started a drive at schools to collect more plastic. In the past months, he has also held several workshops to raise awareness among adults.
Most of his works are temporary public installations — the plastic water drain installation at the Manesar Resort, the Futuristic Earth core, the nature cover, and many more.
“Making artwork from plastic is a very big challenge. Only after multiple trials we could come with our first art piece. For me, these art pieces are not just projects, this is the aim of my life — reduce plastic.”
Manveer is also the winner of the METIS Initiative on Plastics and Indo-Pacific Ocean 2021.