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In the Swedish city of Södertälje, wild crows volunteer to pick up cigarette butts from the streets in exchange for some food.
According to the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, 62% of all litter is cigarette butts and more than one billion of them are left on the country’s streets each year. Hopefully, the crows can help cut the costs which are spent on cleaning up the streets. Just to clear the streets of Södertälje, the city spent 20 million Swedish kronor (over 2 200 000 dollars).
“They are wild birds taking part on a voluntary basis,” the founder of the Corvid Cleaning startup Christian Günther-Hanssen reveals to The Guardian.
Each time the voluntary crows put a cigarette butt into the machine which is designed by Corvid Cleaning they receive a snack. According to Günther-Hanssen estimates that the city would save at least 75% of the costs that goes to picking up these butts.
Before potentially rolling out the plan, Södertälje is conducting a pilot project to make sure the bird's health is unaffected considering the type of waste they are dealing with.
According to research, the New Caledonian crows (which is a member of the corvid family of birds) possess the same reasoning ability as a seven year old child making them the best bird for the project.
“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.”