Two More Trash Wheels Planned for Baltimore

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Professor Trash Wheel, photo via Healthy Harbor Initiative/Waterfront Partnership

Mr. Trash Wheel’s family is set to keep on growing.

Port Covington will be getting its own trash wheel, possibly by the end of this year, as first reported by the Baltimore Business Journal’s Melody Simmons. Adam Lindquist, director of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s Healthy Harbor Initiative, confirmed the plans in an email to Baltimore Fishbowl.

The Healthy Harbor Initiative operates both of Baltimore’s trash-eating machines. Mr. Trash Wheel debuted at the mouth of the Jones Falls near Pier Six in mid-2014, and Professor Trash Wheel followed at the end of Harris Creek Park in Canton in December 2016. Both are part-solar, part-water-powered contraptions that retrieve litter and debris using conveyor belts and large dumpsters. Both also have eyes, internet personalities, and considerable followings online.

Now, a third wheel is set to arrive in the soon-to-be-redeveloped South Baltimore neighborhood of Port Covington. Plank Industries CEO Tom Geddes revealed that news yesterday during a panel discussion on the $5.5 billion Port Covington project and Under Armour yesterday at Loyola University Maryland, per the BBJ. When complete, the new wheel will be installed near the BRESCO trash incinerator, he said.

The wheel would be key to collecting trash coming down the Gwynns Falls and into the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. In an email today, Lindquist said the Waterfront Partnership has “always been interested in doing something about trash in the Middle Branch, but it wasn’t until Sagamore Development and their plans for Port Covington came through that we had enough interest and momentum to pursue a Trash Wheel in that waterway.”

Lindquist said that the Jones Falls and Gwynns Falls together carry the bulk of the city’s water into the harbor, and therefore “bring the majority of the trash into their respective branches of the Harbor.” The rest arrives via smaller tributaries and storm drains, he said.

Clearwater Mills president John Kellett said that area near Port Covington is a major entry point for trash flowing into the Baltimore Harbor. “It’s a section of the city that’s kind of dirty,” he said. “It’s gonna be a water wheel that does a lot of work.”

The wheel would be either the same size as Mr. Trash Wheel – approximately 50 feet long, with a dumpster – or “maybe slightly bigger,” Kellett said.

Kellett noted his Pasadena, Md.-based company doesn’t have a contract drawn up with the Waterfront Partnership just yet but said they have been doing preliminary planning work on the machine.

Lindquist said project planning is in its “early days” and couldn’t give an estimate for when the trash wheel would be ready. However, he said the Waterfront Partnership is “confident” Clearwater Mills could build one in six months, once funding is in place.

As for the cost, about $770,000 would be needed to fund the new wheel. Sagamore Development, Continental Realty and the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership have all pledged “significant financial contributions,” Lindquist said, but they still need to get other partners to fund the rest of the installation and construction costs.

Another trash wheel could be in the works just across the Patapsco from Port Covington at Masonville Cove, Kellett said. That one would be much smaller and would cost about $425,000, he said.

Lindquist said the Maryland Port Administration is behind that effort, not the Waterfront Partnership. A spokesperson for the port administration confirmed they plan to bring a trash wheel to the area, but couldn’t offer additional details.

Clearwater Mills’ sustainable trash-collecting invention has become a major hit around the world. Mr. Trash Wheel rose to international fame almost as quickly as he collected more than one million pounds of trash. At least one nearby city has weighed whether to get its own trash wheel, as has Newport Beach, Calif., out west.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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