No solution in sight to dump tire mountain

Government is hoping it will be a case of sixth time lucky as it again seeks to find someone to take the stockpile of used tires at the George Town Landfill off its hands.

Estimates of how many tires are piled up at the landfill vary wildly, from 500,000 to 2 million. They have been labeled a health hazard because of the fumes they give off during fires – a frequent problem at the site.

Government tried on four occasions, since 2011, to find a bidder willing to pay to take the tires, which can be used as fill or in road construction projects, but received no bids.

A fifth request for proposals issued last May stated that “nominal bids” would be accepted, opening up the prospect of someone taking the tires for free.

The Ministry of Health, which has responsibility for the landfill site, confirmed in August that it had two bidders for the tires, but those negotiations came to nothing.

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Sheila Alvarez, an administrative officer in the ministry, said, “The previous tender did not result in the award of a contract.”

She declined to say what had happened with the two bids received in August.

She added, “A new request for proposals for the used landfill tires will be published in a couple of weeks, but the date has not been determined as yet.”

Developer Ironwood, which hopes to build a golf resort in the eastern districts, has previously stated that it would be willing to take the tires, shred them and use them as fill for the project, but no official bid has been made to take the tires through the RFP process.

Under the terms of the RFP that went out last year, the successful bidder will be required, at its own cost, to process and remove tires from all three landfill sites at Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. The successful bidder will be entitled to any profit made from selling the tires.

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 disposal of those items.

Because of the hazards associated with scrap tires, most developed countries regulate their disposal. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 38 states ban whole tires from landfills.


Estimates of how many tires are piled up at the dump vary from 500,000 to 2 million. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT
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  1. There are places in the world where tires are used as artificial reefs. Since Cayman is a dive center maybe someone should look into this. It would not get rid of all the tires but it would reduce the pile and create another reason for divers to come to the island

  2. Why not just buy a used industrial tire shredder and give some folks a job shredding the tires. Eventually they are going to realize that either they will have to find a way to deal with the tires themselves or pay someone else to do it which will not be cheap. Old unprocessed tires have a negative value, no one is going to take them for free and ship them off the island to be processed. It will be interesting to see how many RFP’s it will take for them to realize that.

    The IronWood developers have no need to enter into the RFP process because when they are ready to build the Golf Coarse the tires will still be there and whatever government is in charge at the time will gladly give them to them and hype on how they solved the tire issues.

  3. @Bruce. The artificial reef that was created in Ft Lauderdale actually turned out to be an environmental Disaster. I think this should be the last thing Cayman should consider even trying to do.

    Check out this article about he Osborne Tire Reef.

    There are tons of uses for shredded tires on land and even right in Cayman. However it would take creative minds to accomplish things this way. I do not believe that Creativity is on the list of required skills for most political seats and unfortunately the way Cayman deals with it’s garbage is in the hands of politicians.