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Plastic kayaks were made from floodplain waste

11/12/2023 14:27
Plastic kayaks were made from floodplain waste

The tripartite collaboration started two years ago by the Tisza Plastic Cup initiative, the National Water Directorate General and The Coca-Cola Foundation - Coca-Cola's global foundation - ended with the collection of 80 tons of waste.

However, the Waste-Free Tisza program gave the river Tisza and its participants much more than short-term waste collection: GPS-based tracking was launched for waste mapping, the first Kisköre River Saver Center was built, and plastic took a special shape in the prototypes of Plastic Kayaks as a useful secondary raw material. With its successes, the program deserved to continue.

In 2019, more driftwood and waste arrived at the Kiskörei dam than ever before. The surface of the waste barrier formed above the dam reached 17,000 square meters, and its thickness exceeded 3 meters in some places. In order to eliminate and effectively manage the situation, the water, civil and corporate sides came together. Since then, continuous protection has continued, large-scale recycling of extracted waste and thanks to regular, large-scale cleanings, the set goal of removing 80 tons of river waste from the river and its floodplain has been achieved.

With waste against waste - innovative recycling

Thanks to the cooperation of the water department, the Plastic Cup's first River Saver Center was built next to the Kiskörei Dam, a community space and work area where, thanks to the waste management and sorting infrastructure, the careful sorting and preparation of waste for recycling could become regular. More than half of the extracted waste was recycled.

"Domestic and international knowledge and experience also contributed to the Plastic Kayaks, which were made within the framework of the program, exclusively from plastic bottles collected in the river Tisza, so-called secondary raw materials."
- Dávid Attila Molnár, co-founder of the Plastic Cup initiative, reported on one of the special features of the program.

"In order to make each kayak, we had to collect about 300 kg of waste from the floodplain of the river, from which we selected 20 kg of kayak material, so-called HDPE type plastic. It took hundreds of hours of volunteer work, while the diligent hands collected, sorted, washed and then ground the waste."
- added the specialist

The added value of volunteers is invaluable

Within the framework of the program, the dedicated volunteers of the Plastic Cup dedicated thousands of hours of their free time to cleaning the river Tisza and river Bodrog and treating waste. Coca-Cola Hungary also contributed to the success of the program by involving its own employees: 170 participating volunteers managed to remove more than 7 tons of waste from the river Tisza floodplain and lake Tisza with the corporate programs held in Kisköre, Dinnyéshát and Tiszaszalka.

The path of waste – GPS signal bottles on the river Tisza and river Bodrog

Compared to how big problem the plastic pollution is, we have little data on how far a pill bottle travels at once, how long it spends in the floodplain, and if it gets stuck between the trees, is there a chance that the next flood will takes it further. In the course of the Plastic Cup's history, it has caught a number of Plastic bottle mails, so these message carriers prove that plastic pollution can travel great distances on the river. This kind of utilization of Plastic bottles inspired the pet pirates to use more serious technology to monitor the flow of plastic. The Waste-Free Tisza program made it possible for the specialists of the Plastic Cup to launch exploratory research using GPS beacons that have already been used for migratory birds and other new technical solutions.

During the two years, the specialists tried two types of data transmission methods, and thus two prototypes were made. The testing of seven pieces of the second finally began with the cooperation of Waterscope Zrt., which has been ongoing ever since. In keeping with maritime tradition, the bottles cannot be launched without dedication and naming, so a naming campaign was launched on the social media page of the Plastic Cup, the winner of which named the bottles after Santa's seven reindeer. The functions of the bottles were also examined at river Bodrog and river Tisza, and further improvements are made based on the results. The results are promising, on the one hand, they showed locations on the river Bodrog where serious waste deposites can occur, and on the other hand, they pointed out how quickly the tide of plastic can spread with continuous swimming.

Hazai és nemzetközi jó példák, tapasztalatok

The long-term ecological protection and cleanliness of the river Tisza and its tributaries can only be imagined through cooperation with neighboring countries and the mutual dissemination and adoption of international good practices. To this end, the Plastic Cup initiative tries to help and speed up the development of waste management in Transcarpathia, so that the problem can be stopped at the source. Thanks to the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation, the specialists of the Plastic Cup were able to share their own experiences and results at the 2019 Budapest Water Summit and the ISWA (International Solid Waste Association) congress in Bilbao, thanks to which further international relations were established. and then in Amsterdam, on the occasion of Aquatech, one of the world's largest water industry exhibitions, they were able to meet the engineers of the world-famous ocean and river cleaning initiatives from the Ocean Cleanup, Waste Free Ocean and Recycled Island teams. It is also due to this that part of the river Tisza waste, 5.5 tons of plastic, went to the Waste Free Oceans organization, also for recycling.

The Coca-Cola Foundation - Coca-Cola's global foundation - donated 250,000 dollars to the Society (the forerunner of the Plastic Cup Society), which runs the Plastic Cup, within the framework of the Waste-Free Tisza project. For more than 30 years, The Coca-Cola Company has been donating 1% of its international operating income to various causes, including sustainability, worldwide. Thanks to this, the two-year program starting in 2019 was realized here, and thanks to the successes, the attitude-forming program aimed at cleaning the Tisza can continue for a year from September this year with another $150,000 grant. With the continuation, the experts will implement programs with which they want to achieve significant changes in the source region of the river Tisza, in order to get closer to the root of the problem, as well as a long-term solution.

"Packaging waste is a significant problem in the world, and we want to be part of the solution. In 2018, Coca‑Cola launched its global Zero Waste World program, in which the efforts towards this matter occupy a central place. I am proud that the Zero Waste Tisza program we have successfully implemented its main objectives in the past two years, but we are not stopping there. We want to use the current $150,000 foundation grant for purposes where we can help in the long term and primarily in the sustainability of the environment. This grant provides an opportunity to solve the problem not only symptomatically, but we can also manage it at its source. In addition to the financial commitment, we would like to continue to help the success of voluntary actions with the active involvement of our employees." - said Sonia Dimogli, the recently appointed Hungarian director of the Coca-Cola Company.

"The Waste-Free Tisza program is not only an excellent example of cooperation between the economic, state and civil spheres, but also exemplary in the cooperation of voluntary and professional environmentalists." - evaluated the program Attila Lovas, director of the Central Tisza Region Water Directorate.

"Thanks to the tripartite cooperation, thanks to the effective work, we can return the river Tisza to the water tourists, fishermen and hikers, as well as to the wildlife, which is much cleaner than the previous conditions, which increases the tourism value and attractiveness of the region along the river." - added the specialist.

As a non-profit social organization operating the Tisza Plastic Cup, the Society (the forerunner of the Plastic Cup Society), within the framework of the Waste-Free Tisza program, produced several short films that show how the Plastic Cup initiative fights against waste with waste, how it was possible to eliminate the waste islands in front of the Kiskörei Dam, how could transformed plastic bottle into Plastic kayaks and what is the strength of the environmental protection community?

For example, a 5-part series on the making of Plastic Kayaks was made with the involvement of actor Attila Epres, water tour leader, and Plastic Cup volunteers: