Mr. Trash Wheel, The Solar-Powered Water Wheel, Has Removed Over 1 Million Pounds Of Trash From Baltimore Waterways

Published April 21, 2017
Updated February 27, 2024

All Mr. Trash Wheel needs to operate is sun and moving water.

Mr. Trash Wheel In Baltimore

Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore

Meet Mr. Trash Wheel.

He’s a water wheel from Baltimore who enjoys conserving energy and eating garbage.

And there is a lot of garbage to snack on in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Since coming to life in 2014, Mr. Wheel has removed over 1 million pounds of trash — including 8.9 million cigarette butts, 464,947 Styrofoam containers, 346,149 chip bags, 372,650 plastic bottles and 257,337 grocery bags — from the harbor.

Complete with giant eyes, he is powered by the river’s current (or solar panels when the water is still).

The force of the current lifts the rubbish and deposits it into Mr. Trash Wheel’s dumpster mouth — the same way most of us eat popcorn when no one is watching:

All of the trash collected is then incinerated, generating power for some Maryland homes.

The company that created the wheel is currently fundraising so Mr. Trash Wheel can have a companion. It’s not having too much trouble coming up with the funds, especially since the original has become something of a local celebrity.

Along with his bottle-munching duties, Mr. Trash Wheel enjoys making t-shirts with his face on it, playing with his pet snake (yes, he has a pet snake named Bindi), creating his very own beer brand, and photoshopping himself into famous movies:

His fans hope people in other riverside cities will consider getting a Mr. Trash Wheel of their own.

After learning about Mr. Trash Wheel, read about how giraffes are on their way to “silent extinction” due to American trophy hunting. Then, check out our story on beer-powered cars and the future of energy.

All That's Interesting
Established in 2010, All That's Interesting brings together a dedicated staff of digital publishing veterans and subject-level experts in history, true crime, and science. From the lesser-known byways of human history to the uncharted corners of the world, we seek out stories that bring our past, present, and future to life. Privately-owned since its founding, All That's Interesting maintains a commitment to unbiased reporting while taking great care in fact-checking and research to ensure that we meet the highest standards of accuracy.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.