Each year approximately 66 million glass bottles from alcohol alone make their way into the George Town landfill, according to Cayman Distributors. This does not even include other glass products sold in the grocery stores. Dart’s landfill experts estimate that 10 per cent of all waste in Cayman comes from glass bottles and jars.
“If we can get ourselves and the general public to divert as much glass as possible to recycling, we help reduce a significant share of household waste,” says Chip Ogilvie, manager of the Operations and Maintenance Department at Dart Realty.
Until recently, there was no way to recycle used glass containers, but this is about to change. In March Dart Realty took delivery of a small industrial glass crusher that has the capacity to deal with 1,500 pounds of glass per hour and crush it down to an aggregate size that can be used for road construction or as fill. The crusher is mounted on a trailer so any spare capacity can be offered to recycle glass that is collected outside of Camana Bay.
“The idea of the trailer was that we could be portable so we can take care of our pile and then move it to a central location, go to schools and shows to promote recycling,” says Ogilvie.
“So if someone else piled up glass somewhere we could bring the machine to the product by trailer.”
The capacity of the crusher has been sized off a small town like Camana Bay, but Ogilvie says, while the crusher will not be large enough to cope with all of the Island’s bottles, there is considerable spare capacity which can be made available elsewhere on Grand Cayman to handle other volumes. For the past year tenants at Camana Bay have deposited their glass bottles
at collection points and accumulated enough glass to fill four 40 yard dumpsters.
Once this glass mountain has been crushed, Dart will seek ways to increase the volume of glass that is reused. In a first step, Camana Bay has opened up the glass recycling station at the
Farmer’s Market to the public to raise the amount of bottles that will not go to the landfill.
“And without any advertising it has grown by over 100 per cent in usage over a few weeks,” Ogilvie says. A recycled product The crushed glass is a marketable product that can be reused in road construction or as sidewalk building material. Potential buyers have already expressed an interest, says Ogilvie.
“The crushed glass can be sold for fill and for use in glasscrete or glasphalt, which are road and sidewalk building materials.”
Glasscrete mixes crushed glass with cement for visual effect and can be used for anything from kitchen and bathroom countertops to walkways.
“You can literally walk on it with bare feet,” Ogilvie says. Possible buyers include homeowners, who are pursuing environmental housing projects and may want to line their walkways with recycled materials. Although the glass will typically not be sorted according to colours, Ogilvie anticipates, that on occasion specific desirable colours could be separated out for commission-based colour runs.
Ultimately, one employee will be hired whose dedicated job it will be to run and maintain the machinery. Glasphalt mixes the crushed glass with asphalt and is often used in the construction of roads.
Before the recycled glass can be turned into glasphalt in Cayman, Dart will need to provide samples of the final crushed glass product to the National Roads Authority, which has to make sure that it meets road specifications. The law will then need to be amended to reflect the recycled glass materials that are permitted for road construction.
Although there is no island-wide concept on how to deal with plastic waste, Dart has made a first step by replacing its water bottles, with bottles made from corn. Ogilvie says the 100 per cent
biodegradable bottles are a step forward albeit slightly more expensive.
The bottles are collected and then recycled in the Dart’s nursery where they degrade in a composting environment, together with the food waste that is collected from Camana Bay residents and commercial tenants, in particularly the restaurants.
Dart Realty’s green efforts also aim at improving energy efficiency. Specifically the replacement of light fixtures with LED lighting is cutting energy consumption and energy costs. At Camana Bay the Cayman National Bank, the Observation Tower and the Discovery Centre are completely fitted with LED lighting and Books and Books as much as it is possible given the high ceilings of the store.
Outside areas are also being fitted with LED bulbs, which despite their initially higher costs last longer and tend to pay for themselves very quickly due to their lesser energy usage. As a result they will translate into lower communal bills for the Camana Bay tenants. Dart also offers energy audits to tenants to determine how energy usage can be reduced, says Ogilvie.