Mr. Trash Wheel Cleaning Up In Baltimore More Than Omar On The Stash
by Rudy Sanchez on 06/18/2021 | 2 Minute Read
Sitting at the mouth of the Patapsco River sits Baltimore’s inner harbor. A point of pride for a city that’s most known for Cal Ripken, John Waters, and only the bestest crime drama ever made, Baltimoreons enjoy boating, fishing, kayaking, rafting, and famous blue crabs from the water surrounding Charm City.
To keep enjoying the beauty, bounty, and recreation that begins in Baltimore’s inner harbor, the waterways can’t be allowed to get filled with garbage, and keeping trash out of them is critical to maintaining rivers and bays that bring joy and pleasure to the area’s citizens and visitors. Often, that single-use water bottle that doesn't make it into the trash bin can find its way to a storm drain where it can end up in the harbor, and eventually, the ocean.
That was especially important to local John Kellett, who, after seeing trash in the water on his way to work as director of the Maritime Museum, was inspired to create a device that would safely collect the refuse that can later get disposed of properly, eventually leading to Mr. Trash Wheel and its siblings Professor Trash Wheel, Captain Trash Wheel, and Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West, devices made by Kellett’s Clear Water Mills.
The device uses water currents to collect trash into its “mouth,” using solar power as backup. Mr. Trash Wheel’s conveyor belt and rakes move slow enough to not harm fish, birds, and other wildlife in the area, and garbage collected gets dropped into a dumpster, which they eventually haul off. The 14-foot water wheel that powers the belt is even powerful enough to pull in a mattress or a tree.
Unfortunately, technology to sort all the trash collected for recycling does not yet exist, so the garbage is incinerated to generate electricity as the next best thing. Finally, googly eyes are added to the trash wheels, lending the trash-collecting machines a bit of whimsy, further endearing them to the public.
Mr. Trash Wheel and its water-dwelling siblings have become local celebrities, garnering tens of thousands of social media followers. What's more, it inspired folks all over the globe to bring a Trash Wheel to their town, making it a cleaner export than Baltimore’s dirtier contributions to culture.