- Honolulu is looking to install a trash-collecting water wheel with a conveyor belt to clean the notoriously dirty Ala Wai Canal by mid-2018.
- Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii has currently raised $2,000 toward a $5,000 goal for conducting a feasibility study of the project.
- The project is expected to cost $900,000 and the Honolulu City Council has already allocated $350,000 toward it. Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, the Surfrider Foundation, and 808Cleanups plan to begin fundraising from local businesses and the state and federal governments to make up the remainder.
This idea follows the popular Mr. Trash Wheel concept in Baltimore which is used to clean the city's Inner Harbor. Since it started running in 2014, the wheel has collected more than 400 tons of trash for processing at a nearby waste-to-energy facility. Thanks in part to a humorous Twitter account and lots of media attention, Mr. Trash Wheel has attracted interest from cities across the country looking to replicate the model.
The Honolulu wheel would take advantage of natural trade winds to blow waste into a boom up on to a conveyor belt powered by the current and back-up solar panels. In a similar set-up to Baltimore, material would then drop down into a dumpster that could be swapped out when full.
As seen recently in Hong Kong and local coastal communities, marine waste is an ongoing issue that has no easy solution. A trash wheel can't stop the source of this waste, but it can at least help mitigate the problem and create cleaner waterways for residents to enjoy.