In just 18 months of work, Mr. Trash Wheel has removed 350 tons of garbage from the port. Nearly 200,000 bottles, 173,000 bags, and 6.7 million cigarettes, plus other garbage that's harder to count.
The first prototype was created by engineer John Kellett, with the intention of finding a solution to water pollution after seeing garbage floating in the Inner Harbor. After a little trial and error, and a promising but insufficient first prototype, Kellett won the support of the Baltimore Water Association, an NGO that supports environmental legislation and aims to make the area a green, safe and enjoyable destination for people and animals. That was the ultimate impetus for his project. There are currently two machines running.
It uses solar panels and river current to move a Ferris wheel, which activates a conveyor belt. The trash, which is obtained thanks to the floating containment barriers, is entangled and lifted by rotating the forks before going up to the conveyor belt. The conveyor belt carries garbage and other debris on the belt, until it is deposited in a garbage container. Once the garbage container is full, it is towed to a transit station, and Mr. Trash Wheel continues to eat garbage.
This photo leaves no room for doubt as to its effectiveness, before and after the port of Baltimore:
Here you can see it in action: