Meet Mr Trash Wheel, a clever water pollution solution

A self-sustaining trash collector that cleanses urban waters using renewable energy.

The city of Baltimore, USA, is home to the cartoonish yet effective ecological contraption known as Mr Trash Wheel. It is a trash collector that has become something of a civic hallmark for the area, cleverly designed to use only renewable energy to keep the city’s inner harbour area free of floating garbage.

Invented in 2008 by John Kellet and design team, Mr Trash Wheel came as an answer to the city’s debris problem that would flow into Baltimore’s harbour following heavy rains.

Mr Trash Wheel is at work all the time, harnessing the natural tide of the Jones Falls River to carry buoyant garbage into the design’s mouth. In the mouth of Mr Trash Wheel is a conveyor belt that carries the refuse to onboard dumpsters which are emptied at regular intervals.

Mr Trash wheel schematic

Should the power of the tide die down temporarily, the trash collector switches to solar power to keep its internal wheel rotating. Mr Trash Wheel comes equipped with a number of solar panels on its back that allow it to continue purifying the water using sustainable energy.

After a particularly heavy rainstorm in April of 2015, Mr Trash Wheel swallowed up 19 tonnes of garbage in a single day. By the end of September 2016, the unique design had cleared away approximately 1 million pounds (or 450 000 kilogrammes) of garbage from the city’s waters during its lifetime.

Mr Trash wheel