Mr. Trash Wheels and Professor Trash Wheels are famous names in the Baltimore community, and the autonomous trash interceptors help to keep the Inner Harbor free of trash and debris. (Courtesy photo)

By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member

Of all of the Baltimore City household names, Mr. Trash Wheels is one of the most significant icons in the city. The autonomous trash interceptor and his three allies, Gwynnda the Good Wheel of the West, Professor Trash Wheel and Captain Trash Wheel, have collected over 1600 tons of trash and debris, preventing the waste from traveling into Baltimore waterways.

Now, Pompeian, a Baltimore-based olive oil company, is adopting Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel to fund the collection and removal of about 250 tons of trash and debris from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

The adoption comes from a first-of-its-kind partnership between Pompeian and Healthy Harbor, which is an initiative of the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. To commemorate the collaboration, the trash interceptors will have green eyes, and the wheels will have green lights and spinning olive branches.

“ reached out to us because they had seen Mr. Trash Wheel operating in the Baltimore harbor, and they wanted to do something to give back to the city of Baltimore,” said Adam Lindquist, director of the Healthy Harbor initiative.

Pompeian opened a warehouse in Baltimore in 1910, and Mattan Sharvit, director of corporate social responsibility, said the city is the heart of the company. Although there may not be a connection between olive oil and trash collection, Pompeian wanted to be the first company to jumpstart an adoption program for the trash interceptors.

“We want to be the first one to open the door for other companies to do exactly the same,” said Sharvit. “We want to show companies that they have to do it because it doesn’t cost much, and it helps everyone.”

In addition to funding Mr. Trash Wheel and Professor Trash Wheel, Pompeian, Inc. committed $25,000 for a community cleanup and beautification grant program in East Baltimore. With the program, community members can acquire grants of $1000 to $5000, and some have already taken advantage of the funding.

At Hampstead Hill Academy in Highlandtown, first graders planted dozens of native perennials in their schoolyard. The charter school also purchased a rain barrel and composter with the grant. In the Oliver neighborhood, residents came together to clean their blocks and plant native perennials. The community also purchased gardening tools and flower pots. Proposals for more community cleanup and beautification efforts are being accepted on a rolling basis until the funds expire.

According to Lindquist, Healthy Harbor plans to build a cohort of community members out of the grant program to educate them about the environmental history of the Inner Harbor, as well as to take them on boating tours of Baltimore’s waterfront.

“We really want to reconnect people in Baltimore to the Baltimore harbor in really tangible ways,” said Lindquist.

Employees of Pompeian have also been encouraged to join in on the restoration efforts for the Inner Harbor, and Sharvit said his company recognizes that this endeavor is just a drop in the bucket. He hopes the collaboration will improve the lives of Baltimore residents and engage more businesses to participate in volunteer work.

“There is no competition in taking care of our community and environment,” said Sharvit.

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