Crows May Soon Be Used To Collect Cigarette Butts From City Streets

Tyler Quiring / Unsplash

Many are unaware that crows are among the most intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom—they’re capable of using tools, nursing grudges, and even holding funerals. This is why a Dutch startup company is looking at using crows as a way to help regulate litter.

The tobacco industry produces a lot of cigarettes, and that leads to a lot of filters discarded on the ground. Containing plastics that can take up to 300 years to biodegrade, cigarette butts are the most common type of litter. Recent environmental studies and health groups are recognizing the seriousness of the butt problem, from bio-accumulation of poisons up the food chain, to damage, to commercial fisheries and water supplies.

Crowded Cities is the startup company spearheading this new method and they shared on their website,

“Cigarette filters, you find them in the park next to you in the grass, in dirty ditches and under your shoes. What if we could find a way to collect these butts from all corners of our city and precious parks? With crows, that have become perfectly adapted to city life, we can! By training crows to recognize and pick up cigarette filters we can solve this tenacious problem of city pollution. We were not planning to train crows ourselves, but we wondered if it is possible to put a Crowbar out in public to train them autonomously.”

The the way it works is crows will receive food in exchange for collecting old cigarette filters. When the crow brings the used filter to the device, they drop it into the bottom collection tray. Once the built-in camera recognizes the item as a cigarette filter, it dispenses food to the crow in exchange.

Check out the video below to see just how intelligent the crow is.

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