The Zero Waste Tisza River program achieved its goal at half-time

In the summer of 2019, Coca-Cola Hungary – together with the General Directorate of Water Management and the Plastic Cup – committed to clean up Hungary's second largest river, the Tisza. Since then, nearly 170 employees of the company have taken part in three actions with the Plastic Cup volunteers, where they have cleaned the river from a total of 7 tonnes of waste. With the support of the company, nearly 80 tonnes of waste were taken out of the river in the span of a year. As we celebrate the World Cleanup Day, let’s look back at what they have done for a Zero Waste Tisza River in one year.

With the World Without Waste strategy, Coca-Cola Hungary takes an active role in solving the issue of packaging waste management. It is important for the company to promote the fight against packaging waste not only in its production and business processes, but also through its social responsibility activities, supporting a social attitude change this way.

A significant amount of driftwood, organic material, and communal waste go down in the River Tisza with the floods every year. Thanks to a wide-ranging collaboration, the Zero Waste Tisza River program was launched in July 2019 to solve this situation. The aim of the program is continuous protection and to collect and recycle as much accumulated waste as possible, thus cleaning an increasing domestic section of the river.

In the spirit of the World Cleanup Day

The United Nations Environment Programme introduced the World Cleanup Day in 1992 with the aim of having the initiative’s participants clean up their environment and living space in the third Saturday in September every year. An important part of the World Cleanup Day approach is to recycle as much of the collected waste as possible – this aspect is also taken into account by the Zero Waste Tisza River program. The initiative’s focus is on the selective collection, sorting and compression of waste. The recyclable materials from the cleaned area go to the waste recyclers, and the Plastic Cup processes some of the plastics. Experience has shown that at least half of the waste collected and carefully sorted is recyclable.

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The successes of the Zero Waste Tisza River program so far

The main goal of the Zero Waste Tisza River program is to collect and recycle at least 80 tonnes of waste in two years. The financial support for this is provided by Coca-Cola's global foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation, with a funding of $ 250,000 (approx. HUF 73 million). With the help of the Plastic Cup and the General Directorate of Water Management, the Tisza and its area has been cleaned from more than 10,000 tonnes of waste and driftwood within the program. About 5.5 tonnes of plastic was shipped to the Waste Free Oceans organization for recycling, and nearly 80 tonnes of waste was processed during the year – almost meeting the target number in one year. In addition to the financial support, Coca-Cola Hungary has participated in three volunteer days so far, involving almost 170 employees. During the clean-up actions, a total of 7 tonnes of waste was collected from the river and its floodplains by the volunteers.

The program, launched just over a year ago, has already won Trade Magazine’s Symbol of Sustainability 2020 Award, as well as several international recognitions. The International PR Association, present in 80 countries, has awarded it in two categories of the Golden World Award; the program also won the Bronze Stevie Award of the International Business Awards, the Communitas Awards, and the HBLF Business World for the Environment Award.

The program won’t stop here!

At the end of August, during their most recent Kisköre action, Plastic Cup volunteers sorted 5 tonnes of waste in four days with the water management staff. In this action alone, 1.1 tonnes of plastic bottles were collected for recycling. The water management is continuously collecting the waste accumulated at Kisköre dam with the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation, and the Plastic Cup will continue to help them sort out the waste in the future.

The mapping of the waste’s path also continues. Experts of the Plastic Cup has recently let plastic bottles equipped with GPS into the river, with the help of the Upper Tisza Diving and Lifeguard Organization. The four bottles thrown into the flooding Tisza at Vásárosnamény are helping the Plastic Cup’s waste monitoring program. During the tracking research, the bottles receive GPS signals and transmit radio signals. The Plastic Pirates will further develop the transmitter bottle technology within the Zero Waste Tisza River project, so the bottles can serve the research that tracks the floating waste’s path for several years.

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