Initiating bottom-up management solutions to reduce plastic waste in the Danube Basin – Aquatic Plastic (DRP0200235)

About 80% of all marine litter reaches the sea from land-based sources, transported by rivers, and the Danube River Basin is no exception. Plastics, which were once perceived as non-degradable, actually break down into microplastic particles when exposed to sunlight and fluctuating temperatures. This realization has prompted a heightened focus on addressing microplastic pollution in rivers.

The AQUATIC PLASTIC (AQPLA) project’s aim is to provide a thorough database and methodology to map riverine plastic waste, using artificial barriers, such as Hydroelectric Power Plants (HPPs) and remote sensing technologies as tools to measure, monitor and divert riverine plastic waste accumulations from nature to landfills or rather back in the loop.

The project also plans on identifying high risk waste leakage points via remote sensing methods and to find innovative solutions for large scale extraction and recycling of riverine litter and waste accumulated in front of HPPs.

AQPLA focuses on developing comparative monitoring methods to assess the overall size, volume, and combined mass of floating riverine litter accumulations. By providing reliable and user-friendly methods to estimate the size and composition of waste accumulations in rivers, AQPLA offers an additional tool for managing artificial water engineering structures. This helps estimate the costs of mitigation and river cleanup interventions more accurately. Additionally, AQPLA aims to assist the water sector by offering low-cost, high-efficiency professional river cleanup technologies. These technologies not only halt pollution waves but also utilize the renewable energy of the river’s flow to separate riverine litter, thereby reducing the overall costs of cleanup operations.

Pilot river cleanup activities will be organised in downstream countries, in the Sava Basin to spread the successful approach of river cleanup actions and prevention efforts in upstream countries of the Danube Basin.

The project focuses on the following 4 areas:

  • Microplastics: creating and testing cost-effective monitoring methods to detect microplastic pollution in fluvial systems enabling data comparison and collaboration among different entities across borders.
  • Macroplastics: testing remote sensing monitoring and quantification methods for riverine waste accumulations to help the early detection of plastic flood events and environmental catastrophes; Aiding HPPs manage large riverine litter accumulations by providing guidance on monitoring and extraction while also making waste extraction profitable through game changing recycling protocols for intercepted and selected riverine plastics.
  • On-field commitment: organising various type of pilot cleanup actions at high-risk leakage points and hotspots identified by remote sensing technologies including small scale (for inclusion of locals) and large, industrial-scale cleanups at landfills and dumps – where authorities will be notified to join and discuss possible ways of restoration.
  • Dissemination and capacity building: by engaging stakeholders in data collection, methodology testing and cleanup pilot actions the solutions above can serve as valuable evidence for policymakers, while also expanding the transnational RiverSaver community trough field-based trainings and interactive roundtable events to establish their strong commitment.


The Partnership

The AQUATIC PLASTIC consortium consists of 13 partners and 19 associated partners from 10 countries, representing a diverse range of stakeholders dedicated to address plastic pollution in the DRB. The consortium includes ministries responsible for legislative matters, NGOs actively involved in field activities, universities committed to scientific research, water authorities, national laboratories and public research institutions engaged in water quality monitoring and preservation.

Plastic Cup Society, the lead partner and the brain parent of the Plastic Cup initiative, leads the AQPLA partnership. Since 2013, the Plastic Cup has removed nearly 300 tons of riverine litter from natural waterways and diverted another 700 tons away from rivers and into the legal waste management system.

The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) as Priority Area Coordinator for EUSDR PA4 are key stakeholders of water quality issues within the DRB.

The below listed group of stakeholders represent diverse perspective and expertise, ensuring comprehensive coverage of the project’s target areas, strongly focusing on the Balkans within the Danube River Basin.


Interreg DRP Financial Support

Total Project Budget: 2,166,493.5 EUR

Interreg Funding: 1,733,194.8 EUR


Project Partners

Country Name
AT University of Life Sciences and Natural Resources, Vienna
BG Institute of Oceanology – BAS
BIH Citizen association “Eko centar” Visegrad
HU Plastic Cup Society (Lead Partner)
Association of Environmental Enterprises
General Directorate of Water Management
ME Center for Ecotoxicological Research Podgorica
Ministry for Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism Directorate of Ecology and Climate Change
RO Multisalva Association
Mare Nostrum
RS Faculty of Technical Sciences Novi Sad
SI Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia
SK Water Research Institute Slovakia


Associated Project Partners

Country Name
AT International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River
via donau – Österreichische Wasserstraßen-Gesellschaft mbH
BIH Institute for Water Management
HR Croatian Waters
Josip Juraj Strossmayer Water Institute
HU Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
North Hungarian Water Directorate
Middle Tisza District Water Directorate
MVM Hydropower Plant Ltd.
RO Satu Mare County Administrative-Territorial Unit
Ministry of Environment, Waters and Forests
RS Serbian Environmental Protection Agency
SI Hydropowerplants on Lower Sava
Ecologists without borders association
Slovenian Environment Agency
SK Slovak Environment Agency
Slovak Environmental Inspectorate
Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic
UA Recylable Materials Collection Station, Proektna, 3




Danube Hazard m3c – Regional training

In the framework of the Danube Hazard m3c project, a regional training on hazardous materials monitoring was organized in Montenegro on 08.-09.06.2022.

The training was organized by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and the Center for Ecotoxicological Research Podgorica (CETI).

The training was extremely well attended. Participants of the regional training were invited experts from various institutions from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.



The 4th Danube Hazard m3c newsletter presenting the project overview and the progress of activities conducted in the period between January and June 2022 is available here 


The 3rd Danube Hazard m3c newsletter presenting the project overview and the progress of activities conducted in the period between July and December 2021 is available here.

Press conference regarding presentation of the project “Skadar Lake without chemical pollution – Solution”

The Center for Ecotoxicological Research (CETI) is preparing an analysis that will show the correctness of the water in Skadar Lake and whether there is chemical pollution in that water resource, and the document will be completed next year.

This was announced at the press conference on the occasion of the presentation of the project “Skadar Lake without chemical pollution – SOLUTION“, which is being implemented by CETI.

The project partners are institutions from Albania, the University of Tirana and the NGO Green Center of Albania from Shkodra.

Associated partners are the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management and the Ministry of Ecology, Spatial Planning and Urbanism.

More details on the link.

Beginning of the implementation of project “Installation of analytical methods for the determination of organic pollutants required of the Water Framework Directive 2013/39/EU”

Faculty of Chemical and Food Technology, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava (STUBA) and the Center for Ecotoxicological Research Podgorica (CETI) have started work on the implementation of the project entitled “Installation of analytical methods for the determination of organic pollutants required of the Water Framework Directive 2013/39/EU at the Center for Eco-Toxicological Research in Podgorica”. The transfer of knowledge and skills through trainings that will be conducted in the laboratories of the University of Bratislava and the Center for Ecotoxicological Research will significantly contribute to strengthening the professional capacity of CETI, all with the aim of adequate implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Montenegro.

CETI is recognized as a key institution in Montenegro when it comes to analysis of priority substances in water, sediment and biota, and any contribution (especially from a renowned institution such as the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava) to strengthening professional capacity is of great importance. This was pointed out by the Executive Director of CETI, Mr. Vidoje Petričić at the meeting of the CETI management with Ms. Ing. Andrea Machyňákovom, PhD. (project manager and expert responsible for the development of analytical methods, measurement procedures and implementation of analytical methods) and Mr. Ivan Špánik PhD (financial project manager and Expert responsible for the installation of analytical methods and data evaluation) held on 31.08.2021 in CETI.

In addition to the explanation by the guests from Slovakia on how the trainings will be realized, the discussion continued in the direction of identifying new project ideas. In that sense, it was concluded that having in mind the wide field of research of both CETI and the Faculty of Chemical and Food Technology there is enough space for continued cooperation in the future.

The project is funded by SlovakAid – Official Development Assistance of the Slovak Republic under the Contract No. SAMRS / 2020 / WB / 1/4. The total Project costs are 86.780,00 EUR, of which EUR 24,290 is planned for the implementation of CETI activities.


The 2nd Danube Hazard m3c newsletter presenting the project overview and the progress of activities conducted in the period between January and June 2021 is available here.


Here you can find official Danube Hazard m3c roll-up.


The 1st Danube Hazard m3c newsletter presenting the project overview and the progress of activities conducted in the period between July and December 2020 is available here .

Danube Hazard m3c

Tackling hazardous substances pollution in the Danube River Basin by Measuring, Modelling-based Management and Capacity building.

According to the EU Water Framework Directive, hazardous substances (HS) pollution is a major water quality issue to be tackled in the Danube River Basin (DRB). This also applies to non-EU Member States, which committed to pursue similar goals within the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). Despite a significant risk of failing to achieve such goals, this topic is heavily underrepresented in the current DRB District Management Plan (DRBMP) and national plans, mostly owing to substantial knowledge gaps and to the lack of system understanding as well as institutional capacity regarding HS emissions pathways and effective management options.

The project aims to achieve a durable and effective transnational control and reduction of HS water pollution. It contributes to the DTP objective of strengthening joint and integrated approaches to preserve and manage the diversity of natural assets in the Danube region and to the targets of Priority Area 4 of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. Danube Hazard m3c builds on the three elements of water governance (measuring, modelling and management) complemented by capacity building. Specifically, the project aims to improve the knowledge and understanding of the status quo of HS water pollution in the DRB, by integrating and harmonizing available existing data of HS concentration levels and by modelling emissions at catchment scale in pilot regions. Though not being the main focus of the project, targeted measurement campaigns must be carried out to fill critical gaps needed to provide a robust basis for modelling and management. A further goal is to enhance the transnational management of HS water pollution, through: i) coordinated prioritization of transnational measures with consideration of territorial needs, pursued through basin-wide emission modelling, assessment of management scenarios and elaboration of recommendations for the DRBMP and ii) tailor-made training activities.

Project duration is 30 months (01.07.2020.-31.12.2022.).

For more and up to date information about the project please visit .

Project is co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI).