Mr. Trash Wheel

Mr. Trash Wheel is the product of Baltimore’s Waterfront Partnership and uses solar power to collect trash out of the Jone Falls River.

A paddle wheel attached to a conveyor belt use a combination of the river’s current and solar energy to lift garbage out of the water and into a dumpster.

When the dumpster fills up, a boat tows it away and replaces it with a new one. Despite its simplicity, the machine has been massively successful.

Since May 2014, the robot has collected over one million pounds of garbage from the water.

Becoming a Celebrity

The trash collecting water wheel got it’s first googly eyes in 2015, and was propelled into instant stardom as Mr. Trash Wheel. Originally meant to be temporary, a petition signed by over 1,500 supporters made the eyes permanent.

Mr. Trash Wheel has since gotten his own Twitter and Facebook pages, along with T-shirts and his own beer label.

mr. trash wheel beer

Mr. Trash Wheel’s Diet

  • 372,650 plastic bottles
  • 464,947 styrofoam containers
  • 8,965,600 cigarette butts
  • 6,478 glass bottles
  • 257,337 grocery bags
  • 346,149 chip bags

There’s no doubt Mr. Trash Wheel has eaten a lot of everyday trash, but he’s also had his fair share of exotic cuisine.

He’s picked up beer kegs, tires, a still-frozen carton of strawberry ice cream, and even a ball python—which was later adopted.

Starting in 2015, the collected trash began going to waste to energy plants and is responsible for collecting enough waste to power 5,400 homes.

More Mr. Trash Wheels

The inventor of Mr. Trash Wheel, Clearwater Mills, says they’re looking to install Mr. Trash Wheels in other places around the country. A “Professor Trash Wheel”  was even developed that’s a lighter, more agile form of the trash collector.

There are rumors of a third wheel, but the company is tight-lipped on what its identity might be.

“It’s way too early to start thinking about naming and googly eyes. I don’t know what relationship this trash wheel will have to Professor or Mr. Trash Wheel, but I look forward to finding out.” – Adam Lindquist, initiative director.