Increased recycling could be the long term solution to managing some of the Cayman Islands’ waste management problems.
While many politicians have focused on how to deal with the George Town dump, less has been said about how Mount Trashmore got so big in the first place.
The Cayman Islands lags behind jurisdictions like the UK, US and Canada in its enforcement of recycling.
Alberto Thompson, operations manager of JUNK Removal and Recycling, believes that if every household in the Cayman Islands were compelled to recycle, the amount of trash coming into the dump could be cut in half.
The private sector firm collects aluminium, glass and plastic. Its clients, which include schools, supermarkets and stratas, pay a sponsorship fee to have their waste removed and recycled.
That business model requires buy-in to the concept of environmentally friendly waste disposal from clients.
Many homes and businesses still choose not to recycle.
Mr. Thompson believes a mixture of education and enforcement will be required to make recycling widespread in the Cayman Islands.
He said: “There are currently no regulations requiring people to recycle. It is basically down to choice right now.”
He said with no direct fees associated with garbage collection, there was little incentive for people to change the habits of a lifetime.
He hopes this will change with time and authorities will provide a stronger framework to incentivise recycling.
The Department of Environmental Health accepts aluminium cans, batteries, used motor oil, used cooking oil and scrap metals for recycling.
Large blue bins outside supermarkets serve as collection points for aluminium, which is later shipped off Grand Cayman to be recycled.
The DART Realty group also runs some of its own recycling initiatives.
A baler at the Seven Mile Beach Hotel crushes metal into small box shaped units to be shipped off island.
It is currently collecting and crushing approximately 500 tons of glass each year and hopes to expand this through new community based initiatives to reach 1,200 tons a year.
A spokesperson said: “Since January 2013, 1,125 90-gallon bins of glass have been pulverized at Camana Bay’s public recycling facility.
“Dart Realty and JUNK have partnered to promote glass recycling in the Cayman Islands by providing initial funding for an island-wide glass recycling programme.
“The programme is currently in its pilot stage. The initiative aims to promote glass recycling in Cayman by providing more convenient, on-the-go access to collection bins for the general public.”
Kirk Supermarket is another firm that has collaborated with JUNK on recycling initiatives.
The supermarket is now a recycling drop-off location where environmentally conscious residents can take glass, plastic and aluminium waste to be recycled.
Blue recycling bins are located at the parking lot adjacent to the Kirk Market store entrance and are clearly labelled. JUNK will pick up from the location twice-a-week. The plastic and aluminium goes overseas and the glass is crushed by DART and used to make decorative pavers.
Mr. Thompson said efforts were being made to collaborate with other private sector firms and schools.
He said it was harder for older people to break their habits but he believes children are the key to the long term success of environmentally conscious policies.
“If you get to them when they are young they will continue for the rest of their lives.”