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Waterway Trash Wheels

Ecofocus Group is the UK distributor of Clearwater Mills LLC.  The waterway Trash Wheels are powered by the river current and solar panels. When the tide turns the waste collected stays safe in the dumpster. The company was founded in 2007 with the ambitious goal of stemming the flow of trash into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Their founder, John Kellett, worked on the harbour for twenty years where he was confronted on a daily basis with the negative impact the pollution was having on Baltimore’s biggest attraction. He studied the problem, researched the systems available on the market and finding nothing adequate he was inspired to invent a system for tackling it.

Baltimore’s Waterfront Partnership commissioned the first Trash Wheel. It was installed at the mouth of the Jones Falls to address the problem as part of their Healthy Harbor [sic] initiative.

They added his eyes to give him personality and then named him Mr. Trash Wheel®!

image: The Waterfront Partnership

See How The Waterway Trash Wheel Works

“The most promising technology for addressing the problem of ocean plastic pollution is already in use in Baltimore Harbor” – Andrew Thaler, PHD Marine Sciences

Mr. Trash Wheel®, as he is affectionately known to locals - the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore trademarked the name as part of a smart marketing programme aimed at community engagement - was part of the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor [sic] initiative to make the water clean enough for both swimming and fishing by 2020. The levels of pollution in the water which made it unsafe for such activities are believed to have partly arisen from street littering. Rainfall carries litter into the city’s storm drains, where it carries on through unfiltered streams toward a small river and subsequently into the harbour.

Trash Wheels remediate this by directing floating debris and refuse into the front opening from where the haul is fed onto a conveyor belt. The belt then deposits the waste into a shipping container which is towed away and later emptied.

22 tonnes of waste can be collected each day.

Several years that have passed since the Trash Wheel has taken to the waves and a fair amount of number-crunching has happened in order to assess what kind of impact it has had. As the conveyor only picks up surface debris, it is unable to counteract or reduce levels of faecal bacteria, heavy metals and other hazards, much of which are a result of heavy industry, manufacturing and shipping in the area. The single biggest daily catch was approximately 17,000kg of waste, with the running total being nearly 336 tonnes by October 2015. Among the debris picked up were some 4,000,000 cigarette butts. 

As Trash Wheels are sustained by renewable energy, there is obviously no carbon footprint to worry about beyond construction and ad-hoc maintenance.

image: The Waterfront Partnership

image: Miles O'Brien

Mr. Trash Wheel® is a tourist attraction

Commissioned by Baltimore Waterfront Partnership, Mr Trash Wheel® was crowd funded and has now been joined by two namesakes as the initiative has been so successful.

image: Nationalgeographic.com

image: Atlasobscura.com

image: Blue-Growth.com

image: New Scientist