Baltimore’s most popular trash-eating robot (there are three and counting here, after all) is getting his guts cleaned.
Most of Mr. Trash Wheel, who sits reliably ingesting waste and debris at the mouth of the Jones Falls in the harbor, is headed off to General Ship Repair along Key Highway “to be drydocked for cleaning, painting and any necessary repairs,” according to a media advisory.
Meanwhile, his conveyor belt, which functions kind of like his tongue/esophagus (with the attached dumpster being his belly), will be shipped by barge off to Clearwater Mills in Bodkin Creek, Anne Arundel County, to be repaired.
This is the first time in the robot’s five years of solar-powered existence that he’s undergone such extensive maintenance, said a spokesperson for the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, which owns and operates the wheel.
The Abell Foundation is funding the repairs, which are expected to cost roughly $60,000, the spokesperson said. They’ll last four weeks, or roughly all of September. At the end, he’ll get some new batteries and his belt back and be reinstalled near the Inner Harbor.
In his stead, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works will extend its trash cleanup duties using skimmer boats to pick up debris and garbage in his territory. They’ll have their hands full; data available to download from his website indicate he collected an average of nine tons of trash in each of the last five Septembers, including 25.6 tons that month last year.