Google Earth Helps Estonians Recycle A Lot Of Nasty Trash


Photos courtesy Teeme Ara

The average recycling rate in the Baltic nation of Estonia hovers around 10 percent, so the plan of two tech millionaires to scour the Estonian countryside and recycle 80 percent of the illegally dumped trash collected was...well, pretty ambitious.

Skype guru Ahti Heinla and Rainer Nolvak, founder of tech companies Microlink and Delfi together created a non-profit organization, and software based on Google Earth's GPS positioning software in order to map the entire country, all 277 municipalities - 45, 277 square kilometers - and zero in on the waste dumps large enough to locate. Each of more than 10,000 sites was uniquely ID'd, photographed, and placed on a planning map. Through the last month, the Teeme Ara 2008 ("Let's Do It!") campaign, which got the participation of nearly all local governments, ran public service ads to get people to sign up to pick up garbage May 3. According to the group, nearly 50,000 Estonians (about 3 percent of the population) participated, collecting over 10,000 tons of trash. Hit the jump for more photos!
The trash was deposited at over 200 collection stations, and from there will be moved by trucks to 17 waste management sites, where the aim is to recycle 80 percent of it. The State Forest Management Center helped with funds to move the trash, of which about 1/5 was located in state-owned forests. Via ::Teeme2008.ee (English, too)