The Plastic Cup has cleaned the Tisza and its floodplains from 70 tonnes of waste since its launch seven years ago. The regions of the Upper Tisza and the Lake Tisza can already sigh with relief, but there are still many areas waiting for intervention. It is not clear how much waste accumulated during the past decades, and we can only guess which areas are affected. In order to protect natural resources and reach the new environmental goals, experts have launched a cross-border programme. Owing to the financial support of the International Investment Bank, the Plastic Cup is starting an expedition along the full length of the Tisza as part of the CLEAN WATER, HAPPY TISZA programme. The experts of the Plastic Cup are going to measure the most polluted areas with the help of volunteers, waste management experts and researchers. The goal of the programme is to create a waste map of the full length of the river and thus make the river cleaning actions more efficient.
Last September, the organizers of the Plastic Cup received a support of 50,000 Euros from the International Investment Bank (IIB) to implement the CLEAN WATER, HAPPY TISZA project.
At the handover ceremony, Nikolay Kosov, Chairman of the Board of the IIB, highlighted the importance of environment protection and renewable energy.
For seven years, the Plastic Cup has been studiously working on calling attention to the complex problem caused primarily by the lack of appropriate waste management system and by the lack of infrastructure needed to manage household waste at the upper sections of the Tisza beyond the Hungarian borders. Around the end of May and beginning of June 2019, more than 10,000 tonnes of waste arrived in Hungary, and it took the Hungarian water directorates and the volunteers of the Plastic Cup six months to successfully remove the waste from the riverby the end of 2019.
The Tisza springs in Ukraine, crosses Romania and Slovakia before it reaches Hungary, then flows into the Danube in Serbia, which eventually brings the water of the River Tisza to the Black Sea through Romania. Three of those countries are members of the International Investment Bank. The River Tisza, the second longest river of Hungary, is the longest ecological corridor of the country with its diverse wildlife, and it provides breeding places to more than 200 bird species.
This programme offers a great opportunity to sail the full length of the river at last, learn more about the situation at the floodplains and the protected areas, and get better acquainted with the people living at the riverside settlements. We expect great results from the comprehensive evaluation and also from the online waste map that will be available and freely accessible for everyone
The goals of the Clean Water, Happy Tisza project are to raise the environmentalist efforts of the Plastic Cup to an even higher level and to protect our natural resources and find complex solutions to eliminating further contamination
Next Steps Towards a Clean Tisza
What is the official name of the project, when did it start and when will it end?
The programme is called CLEAN WATER, HAPPY TISZA (officially: Plastic Pollution Prevention Project - 4P), and it is sponsored by the International Investment Bank (IIB). The financial support was approved in the autumn of 2019, and the organizers of the Plastic Cup invited experts and researchers to join in November and December 2019. The programme will end in 2020.
What does this expedition involve?
The 4P expedition will begin at the spring of the Tisza, in the Subcarpathia, Ukraine. The members of the expedition will set out on foot, but later, when the hydrographical conditions allow, they will continue their journey on water. In the beginning they will use white-water kayaks and regular canoes for rowing trips, and later barges and Plastic ships of the Cup. The goal is to sail the full length of the river by the end of 2020, and take measurements along the way.
What kind of measurements will be taken?
The primary goal of the expedition is to expand the Waste Map of the Tisza from the presently available approx. 300-km-long section to the full length of the river, including both riverbanks. The Map will list the exact locations and sizes of all the plastic waste hills visible to the naked eye (macroplastic debris accumulation). These dumps will undergo systematic analyses, the different types of plastic will be registered, and the waste will be categorized by places of origin if the origin can be proven beyond doubt.
Will they also address the issue of microplastics in addition to examining macroplastics?
Experts entrusted a biologist specialized in filming microscopic living creatures to record how tiny aquatic organisms react to this new type of pollution. The records are expected to have awareness raising effect. In addition to that, renowned experts and researchers of the field will also participate in analyzing microplastics to see if plastic particles, which are invisible to the naked eye, are present above and below the main tributaries or in the organism of living creatures.
How can the general public follow the developments? Is it possible to join the programme?
The 4P expedition is open to the general public, so people with appropriate watercraft skills can join at any section. In February, flag-bearers will set out at the two banks of the river to start mapping the waste on dry land. The flag-bearers will be chosen from the weathered volunteers and organizers of the Plastic Cup, and their tours will also be open to public, so anyone who feels the strength to patrol the floodplain forests in the cold winter can join them. The Tisza Waste Map is accessible on the internet, and the data collector community can easily be joined after downloading a free application.
How can other experts, organizations and NGOs use the results?
The Plastic Cup will publish all the results in a comprehensive study both in English and in Hungarian. Owing to thethe Association of Environmental Enterprisesa special professional partner of the programme, the main results will be highlighted at at ÖKOINDUSTIRA green expo organized by the Association in the coming November.
Who will help with online presence?
Experts will also work on the online communications of the Plastic Cup initiative as part of the project, after mapping the contaminated areas. They will develop an interactive website and application. The website will serve educational and awareness-raising purposes by listing practical ideas and solutions for reducing waste. The technical development of the website will be done by KONASOFT Kft., a company that has been supporting the Plastic Cup for years as part of their CSR. The free application will help rowers, anglers, hikers and inhabitants of the settlements in the catchment area to join the conservationist work: they will be able to add new locations or visit and help clean the already existing ones.