Sunday 19 September, Voi co-organized a riverbank cleaning event in Turku together with Finnish Keep the Archipelago Clean Association (Pidä Saaristo Siistinä, PSS ry). Voi also supported the local divers by providing a new underwater drone that will be used in the future to track e-scooters and other items thrown into the water, both in the river and at sea.
Located in the southwest, Turku is the oldest city of Finland known as “the first capital” and has a beautiful riverbank. But if you happen to be strolling by it, you might notice it has an issue with waste and debris being thrown into and alongside the water.
“There is quite a lot of different rubbish accumulating on the riverbanks, all from tobacco tubs to the wraps of take-away food taken along. Even though the city regularly cleans the riverbank, some of the waste still ends up in the Aura River and onwards directly into the sea,” says communication expert Ida Sandberg at PSS ry.
As part of the annual Turku Day celebration, PSS ry and Voi Technology encouraged the city residents to participate in cleaning the riverbanks. A tent was set up where people could pick up cleaning supplies such as pliers and gloves to help collect waste from the streets and river bank. Collected waste could be reported with the help of a new app. Thanks to the reporting features of the app, the litter problem can be addressed in the future and the original sources localized. The project is part of the Baltic Sea Challenge launched by the City of Turku for a “clean, productive and shared Baltic Sea”.
“Voi has hosted similar cleaning events across Europe as we want to do our part in making cities more comfortable environments to live in,” said Voi’s Marketing Specialist Fredrika Jarnvall who participated in the event.
“In addition to the cleaning work, we supported the local divers who were retrieving waste from the riverbed. We were able to retrieve a few e-scooters that had unfortunately ended up in the river. Although we design our e-scooters and batteries to minimize impact underwater, lithium can be harmful to the aquatic ecosystem if it’s submerged over a longer period of time.We need to emphasise that no e-scooter belongs in our sea or rivers, they belong in the streets to be used for transportation.”
A new little helper for divers, ready to go
In Turku, Voi Technology it piloting a new way to help the local divers by donating an underwater drone, which can be used in the future to track e-scooters and other items thrown into the water, both in the river and at sea. Divers are currently studying the use of a small helper called VoiKala (“VoiFish”).
“In Turku, we are now the first to pilot an underwater camera. If the divers’ experiences are positive, we are willing to extend the experiment to other Finnish cities and other parts of Europe”, states Reetta Alastalo, Voi’s Senior Operations Manager in Finland.
Local diving activist Jouko Moisala says that the use of VoiKala is initially practiced in clearer waters than the Aura River:
“Thanks to the sonar function, we believe that it will also be useful for us both in the river and in the sea”, said Moisala.
During the day, more than 1 ton of litter was recovered from the river and from the river banks. The waste found underwater mostly included bikes and other metal items but also more unexpected objects such as a kitchen chair. Three e-scooters were found from the river and even a motorcycle was pulled out from the water. Voi staff were on site and their goal is to repair as many e-scooters found as possible.
“We partly utilize the scooters that have been in the water for a longer time as spare parts and recycle the remaining parts,” Alastalo explains and continues:
“Not a single e-scooter belongs in the water and we encouraged the people of Turku to call our customer service or send us an email if they notice a person throwing the boards into the water,” Alastalo appealed in the local media.
Even the most experienced Turku divers are now in training, learning how to detect e-scooters and other items underwater with the VoiKala drone. In these pictures, you can see Jouko Moisala who is almost 80 years old and has been cleaning the river of Turku for more than 30 years. The photos were shot with the VoiKala drone by Mikko Salo.