A Swedish company, Corvid Cleaning, is recruiting crows that will help clean the streets of Södertälje by picking out cigarette butts. Wild crows will be trained and rewarded with food for cleaning the city. The cigarette butts collected will be deposited in machines designed by Corvid Cleaning.
According to Christian Günther-Hanssen, the founder of Corvid Cleaning and the man spearheading the clean-up program, this method of waste collection could reduce clean-up costs by 75%. Further, Günther-Hanssen says the program will not force birds to participate. Instead, the birds will be encouraged via a system that gives them food for each cigarette butt deposited.
According to the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, more than 1 billion cigarette butts are left on Sweden’s streets every year. This waste represents about 62% of all litter on the streets. The foundation adds that Södertälje spends 20 million Swedish kronor (about $2.2 million) on cleaning the streets.
Due to their intelligence, New Caledonian crows are being targeted for the program. Research suggests that these birds have the reasoning ability of a seven-year-old human and can be trained to perform particular tasks.
“They are easier to teach and there is also a higher chance of them learning from each other. At the same time, there’s a lower risk of them mistakenly eating any rubbish,” Günther-Hanssen said. “The estimation for the cost of picking up cigarette butts today is around 80 öre [Swedish change] or more per cigarette butt, some say two kronor. If the crows pick up cigarette butts, this would maybe be 20 öre per cigarette butt. The saving for the municipality depends on how many cigarette butts the crows pick up.”
The project will start with a pilot phase in Södertälje. Södertälje municipality waste strategist Tomas Thernström said, “It would be interesting to see if this could work in other environments as well. Also from the perspective that we can teach crows to pick up cigarette butts but we can’t teach people not to throw them on the ground. That’s an interesting thought.”
Via The Guardian
Lead image via Pixabay