We wrote a book! Here comes the Transnational River Cleanup Handguide

One of the outputs of Tid(y)Up, an Interreg project led by Naturezésfilm.hu, is the first volume of the AQUATIC PLASTIC series, which was published in English. The association’s staff compiled the book, which introduces all interested parties to the mysteries of river cleaning, based on the course of the RiverSaver Training that has been taking place for years. The book can be read at this link:


The introduction to the volume written by the two main authors of the book, Gergely Hankó and Dávid Attila Molnár:

Attila D. Molnár and Gergely Hankó
The year 2022 began with serious cases of river pollution across Europe. In January, the Borzhava River (Ukraine) was blocked by floating litter accumulations. In February, the Slaná River (Slovakia) was affected by a toxic influx of heavy metals from an abandoned mine – still ongoing in August 2022. The river Somes (Romania) was hit by a huge plastic flood in March. By May, the size of the floating macroplastic accumulation in front of the Tisza hydropower plant reached 1.4 hectares (Hungary). River pollution knows no bounds and will eventually reach our oceans – provided we remain inactive.
Plastic pollution affects all the surface waters of the world. The data suggest that min. 80% of all marine litter enters the seas via rivers, but according to scientific publications, no large-scale, transnational river cleanups were in place as of May 2020. However, by July 2022 – as a result of the carefully carried out river cleaning works – more than 270 tons of river debris have been removed from the Tisza catchment area alone. As other environmental initiatives rise to the challenge, the world’s waterways from Europe to Asia are getting a helping hand. Still, the work is far from over.
With this handbook, we want to help everyone – professionals and enthusiasts alike – who are willing to participate in our efforts to tackle international plastic pollution in rivers. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, in addition to our more than 10 years of field experience in the rivers of the eastern catchment of the Danube, we rely on scientific publications related to river and marine waste. During more than 10 years of large-scale river cleanups, we were able to positively influence river-based ecosystems and communities not only in Hungary, but also in 6 countries through our cooperation with the DTP Interreg Tid(y)Up project.
There is a growing consensus in the scientific community that cleaning interventions can mitigate the harmful effects of plastic pollution. To illustrate how river cleaning can become more than a simple ‘end-of-pipe’ solution, this book departs from the usual list of dos and don’ts. In dealing with such complex environmental problems as plastic pollution of river waters, best practices, basic scientific and waste management knowledge, and attention-grabbing tips are more than necessary.
Cleaning the river is not the same as filling the landfill. We don’t collect and then simply throw the valuable river trash from the environment to the landfill. Instead, we reuse it. Marine litter alone costs the EU economy more than €1 billion, and preliminary figures show that up to 70% of collected river waste can be recycled, raising the question: Why has so little been done to effectively capture and remove it? , and recycle waste from the marine environment? On the following pages, we present a short selection of the many products that can be made from selected river litter. The collection, sorting and manufacturing process of these products can strengthen local communities, build stronger corporate teams and NGOs, promote the development of new goods, and enhance educational programs and international projects such as Tid(y)Up.
We are grateful to the Danube Transnational Program of the European Union for supporting our project, in which researchers and experts were involved not only in sampling, analysis and publication activities, but also in the dirty work of waste collection. Seeing large riverside macroplastic accumulations on video is shocking in itself, but seeing the huge amount of garbage with your own eyes and then spending weeks cleaning it up is a life-changing experience. We are proud to be part of a project in which all our partners have continuously participated in international river cleaning actions. This book is based on our shared experiences.

July 2022, Danube, Budapest