After the floods of the last few weeks, a record amount of waste consisting of driftwood and household garbage – mainly plastic – has hit the Kisköre dam again. The size of the drift-field reaches 17 000 square metres and it is more than 3 metres high right at the dam. The waste is already being removed, but experts expect more waste to come with weather extremities growing. The water management organisation, an NGO and a company have now joined efforts to find an effective solution. The Directorate General of Water Management plans to develop the load area, the PET Cup non-profit environmental program participates in the sorting and recycling of the waste collected. The Coca‑Cola Foundation – the global foundation of Coca‑Cola – provides financial support for the remedy of the problem within the framework of the project Zero Waste Tisza. The cooperation of the three parties aims to prevent the river from being polluted by continuous issue management, to recycle the mass of the waste collected and to clean the river in an increasing extent.

A significant amount of driftwood, organic material and communal waste go down in the River Tisza with the floods every year and the Kisköre Dam is the first facility that stops the flood of garbage preventing the lower sections of the river from a heavy pollution. This year more driftwood and waste have come down the river than ever before, which is being removed by the Central Tisza Water Management Directorate (KÖTIVIZIG).

Head of the Directorate General of Water Management highlighted the importance of infrastructural developments.

The medley of driftwood and communal waste which jammed at the upper section of the Kisköre dam amounts to a record this year due to a long time of accumulation. Therefore, we need to enlarge the load area of the Kisköre winter dock so that we can place and sort out the enormous amount of material that we pull out from the water and disembark on the riverbank. The solid communal waste and organic material blocked by the dam is removed from the water with a thoroughly tested method. A floating shovel loader loads a 200-ton barge which is hauled by the Jégvirág VII ice boat to the winter dock of the KÖTIVIZIG Engineering Section. Based on experience in water quality damage prevention of the last few years, removing the driftwood and waste from the water is expected to last at least four months – Director General of OVF István Láng said.

The PET Cup environmental non-profit initiative cleans Tisza and its holms of waste, mainly PET bottles that come down with the floods primarily from Ukraine and Romania. At boat competitions in the summertime contestants collect about 2 tons of waste every day, after they have built their boat out of reused plastic bottles. During their mid-year actions, they clean heavily polluted territories which are especially important for nature conservation like Nature 2000 areas. The management of PET Cup has worked in a professional cooperation with ministries, national and regional water management directorates for years and thus they organised the I. Tisza Lake PET Cup a few weeks ago, where participants collected 3 tons of waste. The cooperation now continues with the removal of waste around the Kisköre Dam.

Tisza is the largest, contiguous ecological corridor of Hungary, its “services” have determined our culture and life for thousands of years. It is considered a special tourist destination too. PET Cup aims for protecting one of the largest natural resources of Hungary and preventing its pollution in the future. Therefore, besides professional activities, we also launched awareness raising campaigns, and now the three-party cooperation will surely clean the river of more waste than ever before – emphasised Gergely Hankó, the professional leader of PET Cup and the General Manager of the Association of Environmental Service Providers and Manufacturers (KSZGYSZ).

Coca‑Cola Hungary helps solving the problem with financial support and voluntary work as of this summer. The support is provided by the Coca‑Cola Foundation, the global foundation of the company. The foundation has spent 1 percent of the income of its international operation on sustainability issues, among others, worldwide for more than 30 years. The initiative Zero Waste Tisza aiming to clean River Tisza was launched with a financial support of USD 250 000 (HUF 73 million).

The Termeszetfilm.hu Association as an NGO running the Tisza PET Cup has won the support in an international tender and is responsible for the proper use of tender budget during the project. Since 1996, the association has conducted awareness raising and informative projects, published scientific educational films revealing the circumstances that endanger the survival of certain species and the ecological balance of habitats, offering solutions to cope with the problems. According to their experience, it has been evinced many times that once a message has been conveyed, people are ready to change their attitudes and are able to act accordingly. This is perfectly illustrated by the global plastic pollution which is now addressed by a growing number of people who do make efforts to improve the situation. Rivers and sea are now being cleaned by volunteers, NGOs call attention to the problem while consumption habits are being changed and a growing number of companies strive to give back more to the environment where they operate. Considering the extension of plastic pollution, no parties can assume that the problem can be solved unaccompanied, so cooperation is a must.

Packaging waste poses a huge problem today worldwide and we want to be part of the solution! The Coca‑Cola Company launched its global initiative World Without Waste last year, which contains our commitments. We wanted to use the support we received from the foundation for an objective where we can make a difference for the long run and effectively so that environmental sustainability can be enhanced in Hungary. In cooperation with PET Cup, we want, above all, at least 80 tons of waste to be collected and recycled during the two years of our program. Besides financial support, we also involve our colleagues into the program and would like to take our part of the efforts with volunteer work – said Péter Kerekes, Director of The Coca‑Cola Company in Hungary.

With regards to the current, increased quantity and volume of the mixture of driftwood and waste, the load and sorter area in the Kisköre winter port must be enlarged. Only after having completed this, the continuity of work can be ensured and so the removal of waste and its harm free placement can be performed in a significantly shorter period of time. The implementation can be made faster and more efficient by the cooperation of the partners mentioned above.