The city of Baltimore is celebrating 'Mr. Trash Wheel', a floating garbage collection machine that has kept Baltimore Harbor relatively free of debris since it was installed three years ago. Jillian Kitchener reports.
It's a novel approach to a global problem. Called 'Mr. Trash Wheel', it's the city of Baltimore's answer to the scourge of water-borne garbage. Feeding at the mouth of the Jones Falls River, it's collected more than a MILLION pounds of trash over three years. Invented and built by local businessman John Kellett, 'Mr. Trash Wheel' uses solar-powered pumps to satisfy its insatiable appetite for trash. (SOUNDBITE) CREATOR OF SOLAR TRASH WHEEL, JOHN KELLETT, SAYING: "The weight of the water turns the wheel. And the wheel is connected to the conveyer and the rakes. And the conveyer and the rakes are what we use to get the trash out of the river and get it into the dumpster." Kellett says his machine absorbs enough solar power to service an internet connection that allows his company to use surveillance cameras and smartphones to control the water wheel remotely. And monitor the collection of trash in the dumpster. (SOUNDBITE) CREATOR OF THE TRASH WHEEL, JOHN KELLETT, SAYING: "And it goes to a waste energy facility where they incinerate it to become electricity." Adam Lindquist from the Healthy Harbor Initiative says what Mr. Trash Wheel collects constantly surprises. (SOUNDBITE) HEALTHY HARBOR INITIATIVE DIRECTOR, ADAM LINDQUIST, SAYING: "By far, the number one strangest thing we've collected was a live ball python, a five foot long snake native to West Africa." And they're sharing their discoveries with thousands of hungry followers on Twitter AND Facebook. Lindquist says Mr. Trash Wheel has become a Baltimore icon… For John Kellet, he's a business with world-wide application. (SOUNDBITE) CREATOR OF THE TRASH WHEEL, JOHN KELLETT, SAYING: "We already have projects in development in Hawaii, Indonesia, Milwaukee, and other places as well." An indication says Kellet of a global need to clean up the planet….starting in Baltimore.