Mr. Trash Wheel keeps Baltimore's port clean.


Trash interceptors are becoming a more common tool in our attempts to keep plastic trash from entering the ocean. Mr. Trash Wheel is one such example. One is a garbage interceptor with googly eyes that has been collecting trash out of Baltimore's Jones Fall River since 2014.

The original Mr. Rubbish Wheel's inventor, John Kellet, claimed he got the idea for the installation after witnessing the massive quantity of trash that ended up in the port whenever it rained. After the city embraced Kellet's concept, he was able to get money from a nonprofit to eventually put Mr. Trash Wheel in Baltimore's Harbor. Since then, the installation has collected almost 3 million pounds of rubbish, not only making the port cleaner and more attractive, but also a better habitat for local animals and waterfront businesses.

The interceptor makes use of a simple technology: The vessel gathers rubbish via floating barriers using an array of trash-scooping rakes, powered by waterwheels and the river's current — with solar panels for backup on slower days. The trash is subsequently removed from the water by a huge conveyor belt and placed in a massive dumpster. When the floating bins become full, a small staff quickly removes and empties them.

The system also has an internet connection, allowing Kellet to monitor what's going on on the ship via camera and intervene if necessary. He can even remotely activate pumps from his phone to force water into the wheel, ensuring that it never quits devouring rubbish.

Mr. Trash Wheel, in addition to having a name and a charming visage with huge googly eyes, has an online media presence to raise his popularity and make him a city attraction. So far, this has been a success, with people visiting the installation, taking photos, and spreading the word about the need of maintaining a clean environment.

Currently, four distinct wheels, all cousins of Mr. Trash Wheel, sit in Baltimore's waterways, and more will soon be assisting clean other cities across the world.


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