The PLASTIC CUP is a Hungarian civil initiative was launched by Termé Association film making society for the cleaning of the Tisza river. With the aim to call the attention to the growing problem of plastic pollution of our water resources, the Cup itself is  a real 10-days environmental action towards cleaning the floodplain area of the river. The initiative known as the "Water Clean-up" is organized by Termé Association, the Hungarian Association of Environmental Enterprises (HAEE) and the Sonar Diver Team. 

In 2018 – altogether for the sixth occasion – the waste picking race took place between 4 –12 August 2018 on a 70 km long section of the river from Szatmárcseke to Tiszamogyorós. It was combined with a pre-race started in Transcarpathia (Ukraine) few days before the Cup.

The race started with the construction of the boats that already demonstrate the plastic problem: the 21 plastic boats used around 30.000 collected, waste plastic bottles and other re-used fixtures as main building blocks. Moreover, the unique JOINTISZA boat reduced the use of wood, main construction material for the board of other boats and used wasted plastic pallets destined for shredding and recycling. This led to significant reduction of weight that in combination with using truck tilt to cover the hull of plastic bottles providing buoyancy secured ultimate speed and manoeuvring features to the boat. The international crew lived with this asset and won the speed track of the Cup.  Another criterion of watercraft design is the sole usage of renewable energy as propulsion which can include solar energy, sails and of course, human power via paddles and tricky pedal propulsion systems. All in all, 21 boats, accompanied with around 40-50 canoes, started the race on the 6th August 2018 at Szatmárcseke, with near 350 competitors and volunteers on board.


The winning boat of the VI. PLASTIC CUP - the "JOINTISZA" - during the plastic waste collection derby (Photos: Miklós Konyha).

The civil initiative of the PLASTIC Cup has become to an internationally important environmental and nature conservation project. In 2018 thanks to the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary –  coordinating the EU Strategy for the Danube Region Water quality and Environmental risks priority areas and being the partner of the Interreg DTP financed JOINTISZA project –  an international boat participated, with 13 experts from Hungary, India, Italy, Morocco, Norway, Serbia, the United Kingdom and the United States, on board.

The main objective of the international crew was to share experiences in relation to the management of plastic  pollution, which could be taken into account during the update of the Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan (having under development in the frame of the DTP–JOINTISZA project), to learn about each other and exploit ways to cooperate in order, among others, to investigate how the PLASTIC Cup can be further replicated in other countries as well. The international guests also shared their experiences during the race in relation to the plastic waste problem. It was clear from the beginning, that the Tisza river plastic pollution is not a unique problem, all participating countries have been struggling with this phenomenon though within different environmental conditions, waste management issues, state of development and legal framework but with the common cause and determination of beating plastic pollution. 

The international team and the follow-up of the discussion is providing the opportunity to learn about the plastic problem in Morocco, India, Balkan Countries and the UK and by sharing experiences and future joint actions contributing to the solution.   

The victory by the international crew of the JOINTISZA boat gave a sign, that shared efforts of an international team towards common goal could be a winning start” said Diana Heilmann, Captain of the JOINTISZA boat and team member of the DTP-PAC1-PA4 project on Water Quality.


Volunteers and crew members sorted and compressed the collected plastic bottles (Photo: Miklós Konyha).

The award-winning boat was taken by Middle Tisza District Water Directorate with the aim of renovation and exhibition. Although it is also definite: these joint efforts have to be further strengthened and continued for the sake of the long-term successes. Plastic Pirates are ready to continue the battle and sail to new waters.


The JOINTISZA crew specially thanks to Miklós Gyalai-Korpos, mentor of the team, volunteer and member of the PET Admiralty, for his overall support, enthusiasm and for the great design of the winning boat, to the PLASTIC CUP organisers, for the great organisation of the event, to the representatives of IUCN Commission on Education and Communication (IUCN CEC)  and to ERI HUNGARY - European Research Institute Nonprofit Kft.who helped the group in the bout building and waste collection activities of JOINTISZA crew during the race and to the DTP PA4 and PA5 projects’ team members, who supported the JOINTISZA crew during the race.

For more information on the Plastic Cup:

for more information 
for the trailer of “Message in the Bottle” click here.
for showing of the movie, cooperation or other inquires please feel free to contact Plastic Pirates via facebook at or

Official Hungarian Press release can be downloaded from here.


Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)