Billions of cigarette butts are thrown on the streets of Sweden every year, representing the most common type of littering in the Scandinavian country. Smokers leave this waste everywhere, from bus stops to narrow alleys. Since they are widely distributed throughout the city, cleanup is an uphill and costly battle that never ends. But this is where clever crows can come in.
Corvid Cleaning, a startup from Södertälje, near Stockholm, is on a mission to remove nasty cigarette butts from Swedish streets. For this purpose, they recruited a number of incompetent sanitation workers.
The startup is currently running a pilot program in Södertälje, in which New Caledonian crows are trained to pick up crows from the street and deposit them in a special machine that will give a small reward of food to each child.
Crows are some of the smartest creatures in the worldNot only of the bird kingdom. They use tools, that they have built themselves, to access inaccessible food; remember people’s faces and hold grudges; understand the movement of water better than some human children, as well as concept of zeroand solve complex puzzles involving complex steps.
Compared to their previous intellectual feats, recovering cigarette butts is a breeze for these clever corvs. Startup founders are also counting on crows’ tendency to learn through observation when doing so will benefit them, in this case by easy access to delicious food. A handful of trained crows can transform into a flock of cigarette-seeking birds.
All birds involved in this project are not in captivity, so they are free to abandon the project at any time. For all intents and purposes, the crows are volunteering for the role.
If all goes well in this pilot program, the initiative could be extended to the whole of Stockholm, a city of nearly two million people. It all depends on how effective and financially viable the program is. Corvid Cleaning claims a city-wide project could cut the cost of cleaning up cigarette butts by 75%.
“The estimated cost of picking up cigarette butts today is around 80 öre [Swedish change] or more per cigarette, some say two kronor. If the crow picked up a cigarette butt, this could be 20 öre per cigarette. The savings for the municipality depend on how many cigarette butts the crow picks up,” says Christian Günther-Hanssen, founder of Corvid Cleaning. Guard.
A similar project was tested in 2017, in the netherlandsand in 2018, at the Puy du Fou amusement park in western France.
It remains to be seen whether this creative plan will be carried out as intended. Meanwhile, we can’t help but notice that it’s easier to train birds to pick up cigarette butts than it is for humans to learn not to throw them in the street.
https://www.zmescience.com/science/news-science/sweden-recruits-crows-to-clean-up-cigarette-butts-from-its-streets/ Sweden recruits crows to clear cigarette butts on the street