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Getting to Know Mr. Trash Wheel: Baltimore Harbor's Heroic Janitor
May 15, 2020

Getting to Know Mr. Trash Wheel: Baltimore Harbor's Heroic Janitor

by The CE Shop Team

Introducing Mr. Trashwheel

As we like to say in the office, everything can be tied back to real estate. In the case of Mr. Trash Wheel, Baltimore Harbor’s fun and innovative trash removal machine - and his partners in trash pick-up Professor Trash Wheel and Capitan Trash Wheel - they’re definitely a great asset for keeping things clean, helping surrounding businesses thrive and nearby properties maintain their value. So if you’re not familiar, or you’ve never seen his googly-eyed likeness while you’re out on a stroll, come meet Mr. Trash Wheel.

Image © Matthew Bellemare / Flickr

First installed in 2014, the city’s famed trash-clean-up contraptions are the work of Baltimore resident John Kellett. Kellett, the director of the Baltimore Maritime Museum, spent 20 years working along the iconic harbor’s waterfront but was always disheartened by the piles of trash he would see floating about in the city’s waterway. He knew it was tarnishing the city’s reputation, and he wasn’t the only one to notice either.

“Every day, I’d hear the tourists say, ‘Ugh, this harbor is full of trash. It’s disgusting,’” Kellet told Baltimore Magazine.

That’s when he called the city and pitched them his idea. “Simply brilliant” is probably the best way to describe the machines. Two booms extend from a floating platform sitting near the water’s surface, and make a point where the natural currents of the harbor not only draw trash toward the machine, they power a conveyor belt that removes the rubbish from the water. 

"After it rains, we've taken out 12 dumpsters after a single storm," Kellett told WBUR in another interview. 

Sound like a lot of trash? Since the installation of Mr. Trash Wheel and his cousins Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel, the custodians of the harbor have removed a guitar, a beer keg, more than 627,000 plastic bags, over 850,000 plastic bottles, and an astonishing 11 million cigarette butts. That totals about 1,100 tons (and counting) worth of garbage that would’ve either hung around the harbor or gone out to sea. 

What’s more, they’re pretty popular on social media, too. Mr. Trash Wheel has 20k followers on Twitter, 19k followers on Facebook and 16.2k followers on Instagram. He has even made his way onto a beer can via a local craft brewery collaboration. Now that’s something we can raise a glass to.

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