Plastic Cup Pirates at Szeged

2024 06 13

DT-ITS Plastic Cup Pirates collected 1.2 tonnes of litter from the Tisza floodplain in Szeged at the end of May.

Following the successful action two years ago, volunteer colleagues of DT-ITS returned to Szeged to collect waste from the Tisza floodplain as Plastic Cup Pirates.

The idea of the Plastic Cup Pirates Volunteer Day was raised two years ago by the DT-ITS Green Activist Community, and the interest in the programme was so great that this spring we helped clean up the floodplain in Szeged, and in the autumn our colleagues will be working again at Lake Tisza. The programme was again run with the help of the experienced Plastic Cup pirates, who have been working for more than 10 years to clean up our rivers.

Why is it necessary to clean up the floodplain?

Most of the waste comes from beyond our borders, where it is common practice to dump the waste in floodplains, which the river then transports across the border and deposits in floodplain forests and sandbanks downstream. Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated in recent years, as the war in Ukraine has left many areas in Subcarpathia with no waste disposal system at all, so that even more rubbish than in previous years is now being washed down the Tisza during floods. 

The accumulated waste contains practically everything that can be found in a household, which is why the collection of waste itself requires great care. The tidal areas are mainly plastic (plastic bottles) and glass waste, which can be recycled after collection and sorting.

What can 60 Plastic Cup Pirates achieve in a single day?

The Volunteer Day in May was attended by 60 colleagues from Budapest, Pécs and Szeged. In the morning, half of the team went in canoes and the other half in motorboats to approach the contaminated areas. During the collection, the waste is immediately sorted into bags: municipal, plastic, glass and metal. Garbage collection continued in the afternoon by canoe, and half of the volunteers stayed on the shore to sort the plastic waste collected in the morning. Although collection may seem to be the more difficult task, sorting (especially on a hot day) is by no means simple and is a lengthy process for such a large quantity: the bottle has to be checked for recyclability, the liquid inside has to be poured out (oil and other uncertain contents remain in the bottle and are disposed of as municipal waste), and the bottles have to be wiped and squeezed slightly before being put into the recycling bag.

By the end of the day, 204 bags of waste had been collected from the floodplain, with three quarters of the plastic waste immediately sorted. In total, 14 bags of glass, 64 bags of selective and 125 bags of municipal waste were collected by DT-ITS Plastic Cup Pirates.

Plastic Cup staff said it was the biggest collection operation of the season so far.