What Exactly Is A Trash Wheel, And Does the Anacostia River Need One?
Picture it: It’s 2022 and you’re gazing out at the Anacostia River in Buzzard Point, near D.C. United’s new stadium and a revitalized waterfront. As you stand there, a heap of old chip bags, paper cups, plastic and other debris floats down the waterway.
But instead of passing further along or settling into an unsightly pile near the river bed, the waste floats right into the mouth of a googly-eyed contraption, up a conveyor belt and back into a dumpster holding hundreds of pounds of other garbage.
It may sound unconventional, or just plain strange, but Pasadena, Md.-based Clearwater Mills has designed such a device to retrieve massive amounts of trash from waterways. Two of them, Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel ("she has a degree in trash studies"), are already operating right now in the Baltimore Harbor. As of today, the former has already collected nearly 1.1 million pounds of garbage since he first entered the harbor in May 2014.
Buzzard Point is one of only a few suitable future sites for a trash wheel, according to Emily Franc, who leads the advocacy group Anacostia Riverkeeper. Another spot would be near a combined sewer overflow area near The Yards Park just east of Nationals Stadium, where trash sometimes spills into the river after heavy storms.
Published in DCist by Ethan McLeod on March 2, 2017