PLASTIC WASTE - A GROWING PROBLEM
In 2011 when the first Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan has been endorsed by high level representatives of the countries of the Tisza River Basin the countries also committed themselves to implement jointly measures outlined in the sub-basin management plan.
The Tisza River Basin Management Plan has already called the attention to the growing problem in relation to the pollution of rivers and floodplains with plastic waste, which mainly relates to the Upper Tisza Basin area.
"Empty plastic bottles, mixed with other waste, are dumped on the river banks and are flushed downstream during flood events. Downstream the plastic waste is the visible sign of this pollution resulting in curtains of plastic in bank-side trees and floodplains that has resulted in cross-border complaints from downstream countries. The signs of this pollution are visible throughout the whole Tisza basin and into the main Danube River where this plastic waste can also be seen in the main protected areas of the Danube Delta." (Experience Notes: http://www.iwlearn.net/experience)
The first Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan highlighted that measures should be taken to reduce plastic waste pollution and the main source, the illegal waste disposals in the mountainous area in the Upper Tisza Basin. A catalyst for this was the quantity of plastic waste (in Hungary over 300 tonnes of plastic bottles were being removed a year) being removed from the Tisza and potential concerns for the disposal of more environmentally damaging but less visible waste on river banks.
Measures range from education and awareness raising on the appropriate disposal of plastic bottles to provision of collection and recycling activities that would potentially lead to an income stream to assist with sustainability.
As it nowadays turns out, the plastic , what we can’t see – the microplastics – is just as, if even not more, harmful and dangerous than larger size plastic waste. The United Nation’s Environmental Programme (UNEP) named microplastics in its yearbook in 2014 as one of the key, emerging issues that will require global action in the coming years.
It – as a consequence – is crucial to make steps and measures to reduce and eliminate plastic waste pollution in our waters. The best practices, lessons learned need to be collected and gathered to call the attention to this growing problem and to make joint steps.
Best Practices example to spread and to join
In Hungary the PLASTIC CUP initiative was created to eliminate problem related to waste pollution in the Upper Tisza. Their three main goals: conservation of living waters, water sports promotion (kayaking, canoeing) and community building.
The PLASTIC CUP latest action was the cleaning up of a four hectares area of Nature 2000 floodplain forest covered mainly with plastic bottles. In three days, they collected 1200 bags of litter from the spot along the river Tisza between Vásárosnamény and Tiszaszalka. First time in the history of PLASTIC Cup they applied an industrial baling machine that compressed 12 000 bottles only into 21 bales. Next to the clean-up, they monitored 70 kilometres of the Upper-Tisza to record the dumping situation and mark hotspots in order to prepare for our annual summer race.
To learn more about the event, please visit here.