The River Clean-Up, in its tenth year in Sweden, addresses the need to keep rivers clean and in good condition for the good of hydropower production, recreational use of rivers and river ecosystems alike. The project is built around collaboration with local sports clubs. Their members clean up litter from the riversides, and Fortum provides a grant for the sports clubs in return. Today, we have around 3,000 participants, and about 35 sports clubs have worked with us from the very first year to this day. The amount of litter collected over the years is astounding – in total, 252 tonnes by the end of 2021.
Thousands of participants – and Finland joining in
This year, the Swedish project is focused on five rivers: Ljusnan, Indalsälven, Dalälven, Klarälven and Gullspångsälven. As many as 3,000 people are cleaning up the riversides from litter – local youths from the sports clubs, their coaches, and some Fortum staff. In addition, 130 sports clubs from 34 municipalities are participating. We are proud to be part of this effort and extremely happy that so many people in our communities have come together to make it happen.
We have already seen that this concept works in Sweden, so now it is time for Finland to join in. Sports club Muhoksen Pallo-Salamat started cooperation with Fortum to clean up the Oulujoki riverbank with a crew of twelve volunteers. The goal has been to keep the Leppiniemi beach, located near Fortum’s Pyhäkoski hydropower plant, neat and clean during the summer season. By making the beach more appealing for recreational use, we are contributing to the more versatile use of the riverside and the waterway. Collecting litter from the beach also prevents it from causing harm to wildlife in and around the river.
Cooperation benefits the entire community
The River Clean-Up project benefits communities in more than one way. For example, in Sweden, we have found that young people are already quite environmentally conscious, and through this project, we can support this mindset. And, of course, the grant given to each participating sports club is a great way to create social value in communities near the rivers that our electricity production depends on.
The project has also allowed us to share knowledge about the importance of hydropower in the Nordics. Hydropower is an essential part of the energy system in Finland and Sweden. It can be used to balance demand peaks, and as a flexible, CO2-free production form, it enables us to add more renewable wind and solar power to the system. This is why it is also very important for us to collaborate with the communities around the rivers where we operate. We share the rivers, and we share the responsibility for them.