STEP 1: FUNNEL THE TRASH
Using containment booms, trash flowing down the river is funneled into Mr. Trash Wheel’s gaping mouth.
The booms have a 2-foot skirt that allows them to capture trash floating beneath the surface.
Fun fact: The trash booms also help stop oil slicks from polluting the water.
STEP 2: RAKE AND CONVEY
Powered by the sun and the current of the river, Mr. Trash Wheel’s rake lifts litter out of the water and onto his conveyor belt.
The conveyor belt moves very slowly but is strong enough to lift anything that comes down the river including tires, mattress, and even trees.
STEP 3: FEEL THE CHURN
Mr. Trash Wheel’s giant, 14-foot, water wheel is the engine that powers his rakes and conveyor.
When there’s not enough water current, solar panels power pumps that pump water on to the wheel to keep it churning.
Fun fact: Mr. Trash Wheel can operate in tidal waterways, which means he keeps churning even if the river is flowing upstream!
STEP 4: INTO THE DUMPSTER
When trash reaches the top of the conveyor belt it falls into a dumpster sitting on a separate floating barge.
Once the dumpster fills it is towed away and replaced with an empty dumpster.
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. For the time being, the best alternative is to incinerate the trash to create electricity.
TRASH WHEEL FACTS
The most Mr. Trash Wheel has ever collected in a single day is 38,000 lbs.
On a sunny day, the solar panels can produce 2,500 watts of electricity—enough to power a typical Maryland home.
Trash collected by Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel is incinerated to generate electricity.
If you lined up all the cigarette butts collected by Mr. Trash Wheel, they would stretch over 150 miles!