California city considers its own Baltimore-inspired trash wheel

Dive Brief:

  • Inspired by Baltimore's Mr. Trash Wheel, officials in Newport Beach, CA are studying the potential of putting their own trash-collecting barge in Upper Newport Bay, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
  • Like Baltimore's two trash collection wheels this one would be powered by solar and hydraulic energy. The project would cost between $750,000 and $1 million with funding potentially coming from a countywide sales tax. 
  • An environmental study will be conducted first and various regulatory reviews would be required. If approved, the unit could be installed by 2019 and would operate for an estimated 10 years.

Dive Insight:

Like its existing counterparts, the wheel would be positioned at the mouth of a tributary — San Diego Creek in this case — which feeds litter into a larger body of water. Officials recognize that a longer-term solution would be to build some sort of facility farther up the creek, but this would be a less expensive way to start making progress earlier. So far one group, the Newport Bay Conservancy, has opposed the plan because it could disrupt a state marine conservation area.

Potential environmental effects will be considered in the study, and local factors differ between cities, but the results in Baltimore are hard to ignore. Since Mr. Trash Wheel started operating in 2014 it has collected more than 1 million pounds of marine debris and spurred the opening of a second unit, Professor Trash Wheel, last month. These results, coupled with a lively social media presence, have now led other cities to look into installing their own units as well.

Faced with grim statistics about marine debris, coastal communities are becoming more creative in their approaches to combat such waste than the standard anti-litter campaign. Some of the more recent ideas have involved "shark" drones, floating scientific sensors and automated collection boats. As more cities head in this direction there will be many opportunities for innovative ideas to capture this waste and recycle or dispose of it after the fact.

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Filed Under: Collections & Transfer Waste Diversion
Top image credit: Adam Lindquist/Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore