He’s tall, he’s incredibly photogenic, he loves the environment, and he definitely isn’t a picky eater. Who’s this mystery man, you’re probably asking? It’s Mr. Trash Wheel.
This giant, googly-eyed trash-collecting wheel, considered a “semi-autonomous” trash interceptor, was designed to be efficient at removing trash from bodies of water while also being able to withstand powerful storms.
Trash interceptors like Mr. Trash Wheel are put at the ends of rivers or streams to collect waste before it makes its way into our oceans.
The 14-foot wheel, powered by clean solar and hydro power, uses a conveyor belt to funnel plastic waste and even oil slicks out of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor into a collection area so that waste doesn’t accumulate in the water.
And Mr. Trash Wheel is good at what he does.
So far, the Trash Wheel family, which includes Mr. Wheel himself and a few other wheels scattered throughout Baltimore, has collected over 4,000,000 pounds of waste and debris from Maryland waterways, including close to 13 million cigarette butts and about 1.5 million plastic bottles.
Once the trash is removed from the water, Maryland incinerates it as a source of electricity, powering homes throughout the area.
“Ideally, the plastic Mr. Trash Wheel picks up gets recycled, but current sorting technologies are unable to separate the plastics from all the other trash,” the innovation’s website states. “For the time being, the best alternative is to incinerate the trash to create electricity.”