Speaking at the STEM conference on Friday at the University College of the Cayman Islands, Mr. Schubert said an integrated solid waste management plan would likely involve a number of different facilities, potentially including a recycling center and waste-to-energy plant.
But, he added, “No matter what we do, we will always need a landfill. Hopefully we will minimize what goes in so we will have a smaller footprint landfill.”
He said reducing, reusing and recycling could have a big impact on diverting waste from the landfill and prolonging the life of the George Town site.
However, he acknowledged that government would ultimately be required to find a new site.
“There will be a point in the future where there will be a need for a new landfill; hopefully, when that happens, it will be a modern sanitary landfill that won’t have the same impact.
“AMEC (government’s consultant on the project) hasn’t come back to us with an estimated life for the George Town site yet. If they say it’s two years, we will have to look for a site sooner than later. If they say 10 to 15 years, we have more time to look for a future site.”
He said there is a possibility that the site could be “mined” to reduce the amount of material, but there would inevitably come a point when it was full.
Mr. Schubert, who was previously project manager for a state-of-the-art integrated waste management facility in Edmonton, Canada, said the same principles could be used in Cayman. The Edmonton facility includes a waste-to-biofuels plant, a sorting facility for recyclables and a composting facility among a network of processing plants. City officials estimate that the site will ultimately be able to re-purpose 90 percent of waste that would ordinarily have gone to a landfill.
Exactly what combination of facilities is required or could be afforded in Cayman has not yet been revealed. Mr. Schubert said the draft strategy would likely go out to consultation next month. He said the facilities could potentially be paid for by a monthly utilities bill. Taxpayers in Edmonton contribute $420 per household per year toward waste collection and management.
The costs in Cayman would likely be slightly higher because of the smaller population, Mr. Schubert indicated.
Using thermal treatment to convert waste into energy would have a significant effect on reducing the amount of trash going into the landfill, he added.
Citing Cayman’s high electricity bills, he said the capacity to use waste as fuel – 1 ton of municipal solid waste could deliver 500 kilowatt hours to the grid – could not be dismissed.
But he added, “The big advantage is it decreases the volume going into landfill. Currently, you are just building Mount Trashmore for future generations.”