Besides trying to determining the type of waste disposal method Grand Cayman will use in the future, Minister of Infrastructure Arden McLean said the Government was considering the implementation of landfill tipping fees.
‘Only in Cayman… can you go to the landfill and get rid of all your trash and not pay for the service,’ Mr. McLean said. ‘That is highly unfair. You know what’s coming next: tipping fees.’
Mr. McLean said there was an inherent cost in waste disposal, which is not being paid.
‘I don’t see anything wrong with subsidising garbage disposal, but this is costing $10 million,’ he said.
Mr. McLean said tipping fees were part of a full package of measures being looked at to make waste disposal cost effective but not too burdensome on the public. The first step he said was determining what method Cayman will use in the future to dispose of solid waste.
A Cayman Islands government delegation led by Mr. Mclean toured two waste-to-energy facilities in the United States last month. These facilities process solid waste and produce electricity through combustion.
The amount of electricity produced could be significant to Cayman, Mr. McLean said, noting that the U.S. facility in Pittsfield, Massachusetts produced about 9 megawatts of electricity, about one tenth of Cayman’s current need.
‘The amount of electricity [waste-to-energy plants] produce is not a lot for the U.S., but here it speaks volumes,’ he said.
Mr. McLean said it would take 18 months to two years to put a new waste disposal system – which ever one is chosen – in place, from the time the project begins until it is completed.
The government is currently not considering alternative sites for another landfill at this time, however, Mr. McLean said.
‘Whatever we do, we’ll have to find a new method [of waste disposal] first,’ he said. ‘That’s where we are right now; looking at new methods.’
In the meantime, the Government will implement recycling.
‘The recycling part is a necessity for any waste disposal system anyway,’ he said. ‘[Solid waste] has to be separated.’
Mr. McLean said today’s technologically advanced waste disposal systems be implemented with little effect to the surrounding area.
‘I was very impressed with the facilities in the United States,’ he said, noting that some were located in built-up areas.
‘Some were across the road from shopping malls. Some were right across the street from Burger King. They’re just a building with a smoke stack that nothing comes out of.’
Mr. McLean said people should not fear having a waste disposal facility nearby.
‘It should no longer be ‘not in my backyard’, because you could have it in your backyard,’ he said.
The other major decision facing the government is what to do about the George Town Landfill, which has been dubbed ‘Mount Trashmore’.
‘I am still seeking a solution to Mount Trashmore,’ Mr. McLean said. ‘I will not rest in my term of office until I have a solution.’
Mr. McLean said he had received a proposal from Dart Management with respect to the George Town Landfill.
‘Dart Management approached me about taking the dump and giving us land elsewhere,’ he said.
‘Their initial proposal was a little bit out of what I expected it to be,’ he added. ‘It doesn’t make sense to give someone the dump and still have the responsibility of mitigation.’
Part of the mitigation, Mr. McLean explained, was the venting of landfill gases.
Landfill gases, which typically consist of about 50 per cent methane and about 50 per cent carbon dioxide, are created by decomposing organic waste. Both gases contribute to the global greenhouse effect when released in the atmosphere, and methane is combustible, which creates dangers from explosions and fires.
‘[Methane] is one of my greatest concerns,’ Mr. McLean said, noting that the George Town Landfill was at age when methane emissions were increasing.
Mr. McLean said he wanted to talk further with Dart Management about the possibility of it buying the landfill.