Mentioning summer and waterside makes many think of holiday and relax at lake Balaton or on a beach. But for an ever-growing part of the society, those words recall a good pirate adventure and volunteering for nature conservation: the PLASTIC Cup. This year's – altogether for the sixth occasion – 10-day waste picking derby at river Tisza will take place between 4-12 August 2018 on 70 km from Szatmárcseke to Tiszamogyorós, combined with a Transcarpathian pre-race in the days before the Cup.
The civil initiative of the PLASTIC Cup has now become to an internationally important environmental and nature conservation project. With the power of sport, volunteering and environmental awareness, it draws attention to the protection of rivers and the importance of proper waste management. The root of the problem is the flood of PET bottles, or plastic tsunami coming from across the borders – often thousands of tonnes. Many believe that infamous garbage patches are far from us, in the oceans, however, a huge amount of waste is floating through our small country and a part of that stays here. Thus, global waste pollution is also seen in Hungary, and this is why the European Union's Plastic Strategy announced this year is a major step forward, proposing measures for prevention and encouraging the extension of recycling and increasing the rate of recovery. As a result, hundreds of initiatives have been launched to eliminate plastic and other wastes, to prevent their production. One of them is "Plastic Free July", which sends plastics to leave and prompt people to be conscious.
The aforementioned initiatives serve, among other things, the goals of the PLASTIC Cup. The enthusiastic community of the Cup, including both organizers and participants, does not know impossible; they have been cleaning river Tisza for 6 years and its floodplains, and they build up their boats from waste collected there – and borrowed from settlements along the river – for a week journey on the river. The initiative known as the "Water Cleanup" is organized by Filmjungle.eu, the Hungarian Association of Environmental Enterprises (HAEE) and the Sonar Diver Team.
Fotók: Molnár Csaba
The Cup this year will introduce a set of novelties, including race in Transcarpathia, Ukraine riding PLASTIC kayaks (solely made of PET bottles) and canoes between Huszt and Szatmárcseke from 1-4 August 2018. Here, pirates will navigate the well-proven 100% PET bottle kayaks, with help of the Transcarpathian teams, already providing crew for 2 plastic boats at the Cup. This race in Transcarpathia means a huge step forward in raising awareness in one of the source areas of the pollution, as the volunteers of the Cup already made on the International Danube Day in Kvasovo in Transcarpathia. The Transcarpathian race became reality with the support of the Bethlen Gábor Foundation.
Another novelty is that every day during the Cup the organizers will perform water quality tests with the Waterscope water monitoring device that analyses the water samples by holography and sends daily reports to the laboratory on the internet. This innovative instrument used in fish farms and water utilities, will give an accurate and credible picture of the water quality of Tisza in early August.
At the half of the Cup, a day of rest is a great opportunity to meet people, conduct the Cup skills and “Tisza-literacy” competitions and showing of the movie "Message in the Bottle" premiered earlier this year. On the resting day of 9th of August 2018, guests can visit the crew and boats of the PLASTIC Cup at Vásárosnamény-Gergelyiugornya Beach (the full program is available at the Cup’s website www.petkupa.hu).
Besides the many novelties, the main purpose of the program is still that not a single a bottle can be left behind. The waste collected during the PLASTIC Cup is even sorted and compressed, so that the recyclable materials – with the help of NHKV Plc. and ÉAK Ltd. - are reaching the waste recyclers. So, the loop closes, and our waste remains in the cycle. The Hungarian Mineral Water, Fruit Juice and Soft Drinking Association supports the PLASTIC Cup primarily for keeping the packaging materials in the loop, as part of their responsibility program to promote high levels of selection and collection at national level. To this end, an online education campaign was launched to encourage young people to selectively collect PET bottles.
The efficiency of the one-week waste hunting will also be facilitated by the last year's debut mother ship, M.V. Petényi, alias “Waste Eating Waste Ship” built from community and other donations. This ship under constant development is not only the spirit and the community centre of the race, but it collects 2 tonnes of waste daily from the teams attacking the plastic mines in the floodplain with cruising canoes.
After the end of the race, the best performing boats will take part in the St. Stephen's Day celebration in Szolnok on the 20th of August, where 20,000 people can admire the most beautiful pieces of the boats sailed the Upper Tisza. The rest of the boats are returned to the loops, after selective disassembly, all the material is recycled and continues to live.
In addition to the summer competition, an entire annual series of events also promotes the importance of protecting domestic waters. The yearly growing and diversifying PLASTIC Cup initiative is also present now in Transcarpathia, in addition to the pre-race, an environmental grant for high school students has been announced. Professionals now are preparing to the Tisza Round Table focusing on the practical implementation of the Ukrainian Waste Strategy. Additionally, this year, they will be participating at the Waste Management Exhibition in Kiev with an environmental stand, all under the auspices of the Clean Transcarpathia program, in close cooperation with Transcarpathian organizations.
Main sponsors of the Plastic Cup in 2018 are Hungarian Mineral Water, Fruit Juice and Soft Drinking Association, Bethlen Gábor Foundation, IT Services Hungary Ltd. Henkel Hungary Ltd. and the JOINTISZA Project.
Expected main sponsors: Ministry for Innovation and Technology, Ministry of Agriculture.
Our professional partners are NHKV National Coordination of Waste Management and Asset Management Plc., General Directorate of Water Management and the Hungarian Association of Environmental Enterprises.
Other co-operators and supporters: Upper Tisza Directorate of Water Management, Municipality of Vásárosnamény, Green Circle – Friends of the Earth’s member, WWF, Greenpeace, Wessling Hungary Ltd., Waterscope International Plc., Holofon Plc., Henkel, Siemens, FŐTÁV Plc., North-Greatplain Environmental Management Ltd., K3&S Ltd., Tisza Ortofém Ltd., Folprint Zöldnyomda Ltd.
The organizers would like to thank to every environmental conscious and responsible organization that they support and help the cleaning and saving of Tisza and its water basin in order to give it to the next generation.