There’s Mr. Trash Wheel, Baltimore’s trash collecting water wheel. And then there’s the beer named after him. It was perhaps inevitable that the two would intersect at some point.
A photo posted to the Facebook account for the Inner Harbor water wheel Sunday shows a flattened can, bearing the image of Mr. Trash Wheel. The caption:
“It finally happened. I ate my own beer can.
HUMANS! I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS! Why would you do this to me??”
The wheel was installed in 2014 near the mouth of the Jones Falls by the Waterfront Partnership's Healthy Harbor Initiative. Since then, Mr. Trash Wheel has collected more than 1 million pounds of trash, spurring puns, social media discussions and, of course, a beer.
In 2017, the Peabody Heights Brewery named a beverage “Mr. Trash Wheel’s Lost Python Ale,” a tribute to a 2015 incident in which a 5-foot-long West African ball python was found inside the wheel.
Eddie O’Keefe, marketing director for the brewery, said he was “bummed” to see the can end up in the trash wheel’s cache.
“I really like to think that somebody who drank a Mr. Trash Wheel beer probably recycled it,” O’Keefe said. “It goes to show how important the work we’re trying to do is … keeping people informed on how to not get that trash into the harbor.”
The photo of the can posted to Mr. Trash Wheel’s social media looks as if someone tried to recycle it, he said.
“The way that the can’s been flattened, there’s a good chance that it probably ended up in a recycling bin,” O’Keefe said. “It unfortunately went the other direction.”
Adam Lindquist, director of the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative, said it’s rare for the trash wheel to collect cans; they typically sink and are not scooped up with the rest of the floating debris.
The Waterfront Partnership found the can Saturday during a dumpster dive, when 150 volunteers sorted objects from the trash wheel. The Waterfront Partnership uses that information in presentations to city and state legislators.
“You get to see exactly what ends up in the Baltimore harbor,” Lindquist said.
The Mr. Trash Wheel beer can ended up on the “party table” — a collection of strange items recovered from the dumpster, Lindquist said.
“We do not want to see our beer cans being looted,” Lindquist said. “It was interesting that the can was crushed. Perhaps it was a recycling bin that got blown over in the wind, so maybe someone was trying to do the right thing.”
O’Keefe urged consumers to recycle the cans, adding the brewery would recycle cans for them if they didn’t have access to recycling.
“The great part about using aluminum is that it’s recyclable over multiple times,” O’Keefe said. “It’s significantly better than going through making a bottle.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Sarah Meehan contributed to this article.