The result of this year’s first monumental floodplain cleaning event was that the PET Cup team collected 35000 plastic bottles on the Upper Tisza. The movement's volunteers and experts from water management directorates searched and cleaned out ten hectare Natura 2000 area between Tiszaszalka and Vásárosnamény. Half of the collected waste will be recycled as well as the 60 bales of compacted PET bottles.
The Pet Cup competition's teams collect a record breaking amount of waste each summer in a week-long event paddling along the Tisza on their self-built ships made of plastic bottles. The other part of the year, they organize awareness-raising programs, exhibitions, presentations, and professional roundtable discussions with the goal of eliminating pollution. The source of the problem is mainly in Ukraine from where the Tisza picks up the communal waste disposed in the floodplains and brings it to Hungary.
"The problem is much bigger than we thought before. On the one hand in Ukraine there is no right kind of waste transport, management and placement." explains Gergely Hankó, the project leader of the program, Managing Director of the Association of Environmental Service Providers and Manufacturers.
"Current Ukrainian waste handling prices are "introductory", so public service providers are unable to develop or provide adequate service quality, and the standard of living and average income of the population does not allow the introduction of higher fees. Based on these, the problem cannot be solved without serious government, European Union or investor support. However, hope has risen again in recent weeks, as a Memorandum of Understanding between the Transcarpathian County Administrative Office and the Hungarian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MUKIK) has been signed to implement a Complex Waste Management Program in Transcarpathia." – adds the specialist.
For the time being, however, the solution is to collect waste from the floodplain and to shape the attitude of the Ukrainian, Transcarpathian population so that the waste does not get into the rivers. That is why in 2019 several waste collection activities are planned by the Természetfilm.hu Association who are the idea leader of the PET Cup movement. This spring, waste monitoring is carried out on Lake Tisza and the tributaries of the Tisza to accurately assess the contamination of the sites. It is among their plans to announce a smaller competition similar to the traditionally held Upper Tisza PET Cup boat race. Volunteers are constantly invited to participate in the mid-term actions.
In the nature conservation area on the edge of Tiszaszalka, volunteers were cleaning together with water management directorates last winter. Since this floodplain section is the most polluted, this year, three days of waste disposal work was done with a larger team: and a stretch of one kilometre of coastline, ten hectares of land was cleared from waste. After sorting, half of the waste is recyclable, so the volunteers grouped the plastics, metals and glass separately so that it can be handed over to the regional public service in the most professional way. This year, two industrial balers helped to compact bottles, resulting 60 colour selected and compacted plastic bale what will be recycled.
PET Cup volunteers are constantly looking for ways to recycle the waste from the floodplain. As a first step, bottle caps are granulated, with a special grinder for this purpose. „We will test the plastic granules to see what can be produced from this secondary material, how it can get back into the cycle.” - emphasized the importance of recycling Attila Dávid Molnár, president of the Természetfilm.hu Association.
Photos by: Miklós Konyha
The program was supported by the Ministry of Agriculture. Partners and Contributors: National Water Directorate, Water Management Directorate of Upper Tisza Region, Association of Environmental Service Providers and Manufacturers, Észak -Alföld Environmental Management Ltd., Municipality of Vásárosnamény City, K3&S Kft., Malagrow Kft., BI-KA Logistics.