Courtesy Waterfront Partnership
Courtesy Waterfront Partnership

Baltimore’s favorite trash-eating machine has now swallowed up more than one million pounds of the city’s waste in just two-and-a-half years in existence.

Mr. Trash Wheel reached the mark last month, according to the Waterfront Partnership. According to the executive director of the group’s Healthy Harbor Initiative, Adam Lindquist, the poundage intake is equal to two Statues of Liberty or 8.5 million cigarette butts.

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The nonprofit installed him in the Inner Harbor in May 2014 to reduce the amount of floating garbage in the waterway. Over time, they have rewarded him for his efficiency over, giving him a pair of googly eyes to see and creating a smaller, but better-educated female counterpart to help out in Canton.

Mr. Trash Wheel has become something of a celebrity in the city, and the group is proud. And yet, Lindquist noted in a release that it’s an equally sad accomplishment when one considers humans’ role in feeding the machine. “People need to realize that this is their trash and that it was heading straight for the Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay” before it ended up with Mr. Trash Wheel, he said.

The Health Harbor Initiative is still working to reduce pollution in the harbor to achieve its goal of making it safe for swimming and fishing within four years. The group recently installed more oyster cages to filter more of the water, and has also been putting in cigarette butt containers for polluting smokers around the harbor.

Now is as good a time as ever for Baltimoreans to quit tossing garbage into harbor or the street, where it ends up in the harbor or the Jones Falls anyway, in favor of using Baltimore’s perfectly good trash cans. But just in case they don’t, by the end of this year we should have two trash wheels eating it up in the harbor.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...