An attempt to sell up to two million scrapped tires piled up at the George Town landfill site received no official bids.
It is the fourth time the Cayman Islands government has gone out to tender seeking a private firm to buy and dispose of the tires without success.
Roydell Carter, the director of the Department of Environmental Health, acknowledged “modifications” would have to be made before the project goes out to tender again next month.
He said the details were still being worked out but it is possible that government will now have to look at giving the tires away instead of soliciting bids to sell them.
The developers behind a planned $360 million golf course and homes project in the eastern districts have already indicated they are willing to take the tires, which they say could be shredded and used as fill.
Government previously sold off baled scrap metal from the landfill site, including thousands of crushed cars, for up to $50 a ton – a process which netted $500,000. Officials accepted that tires had comparatively limited value, but had hoped to find a buyer.
Mr. Carter acknowledged that the bid process, which closed earlier this month, had been unsuccessful.
“There were no official bids received when the most recent used tires tender period closed,” he said. “It is expected that some modifications will be made to the used tires tender document before it will be retendered again by early next month.
“We are working through a number of considerations and implications; the final approach will be included in the request for proposals.”
Government collects more than $1 million a year in environmental fees on the importation of vehicles, tires and lead-acid batteries. But the revenue, including the $2 per tire import tax, is not earmarked for the disposal of those items.
Denise Gower, spokeswoman for Ironwood, said the developer’s offer to take the tires still stands.
She said they would examine the new request for proposals before deciding whether to bid. But she said the proposal was not to buy the tires but to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way by shredding them and using them as fill on the development’s golf course.
“We didn’t respond to the RFP because they were looking for someone to buy the tires. Our proposal is that we would shred them and use them as fill for contouring and drainage on the golf course.”
She said similar methods have been used in eco-friendly golf course developments in the United States. Ironwood hired a consultant from the University of Wisconsin to advise its designers on how the tires could be integrated into the course, which is being designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer.
Ms. Gower said taking the tires and shredding them would cost Ironwood money and therefore it was not willing to pay for them.
Industry experts in the U.S. have previously contacted the Caymanian Compass to warn that government has little chance of finding anyone willing to pay for the tires. John Deckard, who runs a tire recycling firm in the U.S., wrote: “Expecting companies to be interested in the tires for purchase is completely unrealistic. Given the cost of the processing, equipment, labor, retirement funds and other personnel and related costs, it is unrealistic, especially given that they are on an island.
“Tire piles like this are saved by many all over the world and, in 20 years and millions of tires, we have never encountered any tire hoarders that were paid for the tire piles – not once. “