Consultants say the George Town landfill will reach capacity by summer of 2021 unless a new strategy for managing solid waste is introduced that involves more recycling, composting, closing the landfills on the Sister Islands and using an incinerator to burn waste and generate electricity.
A new National Solid Waste Management Strategy for the Cayman Islands, released for public consultation Monday, estimates that even with all of the recommendations to reduce and recycle trash, the George Town landfill would have only “a limited number of years” beyond 2021.
Cabinet last year asked the consultants studying the landfill to look only at the existing site and not seek alternative locations for a new landfill.
“The George Town landfill site is therefore a resource for the management of any residual waste which cannot be reduced, re-used, recycled or recovered,” according to the strategy report.
This is the second report since summer by U.K. consultant Amec Foster Wheeler. A report released in August found pollutants coming off the landfill into the air and water, posing limited risks to people in the area and the surrounding environment.
The report calls for charging for garbage collection and selling recyclable materials to pay for a new waste management system which could include an incinerator to burn the trash and power a generator, according to the report, and “generate renewable and sustainable from waste that would otherwise be landfilled.”
The report states, “This will produce green energy for use on the Cayman Islands and reduce dependence on electricity derived from fossil fuels.”
A “waste-to-energy” system can take a number of forms, but could potentially contribute power back to the national grid. The facility, the report notes, could be “relatively small when compared to other residual waste treatment facilities.”
“The architectural design of WtE [waste-to-energy] facilities is very varied and can range from iconic buildings, industrial buildings or designs that blend with the local landscape and environment.”
Consultants say government should close the landfills on Little Cayman and the Brac, consolidating the landfills on the Sister Islands with the one on Grand Cayman.
They also call for new composting and recycling efforts to reduce the amount waste ending up in the landfill. The report suggests government put recycling collection areas at grocery stores, and long term, the report states, government should consider starting recycling pickup from residential and commercial properties similar to trash pickup.
Additionally, the consultants write that the landfill should start charging fees. “The current lack of gate fees for landfill disposal runs contrary to the principle that the polluter should pay. The introduction of gate fees should be considered as a measure to both reduce the quantity of waste requiring disposal and providing funds for landfill operators and/or alternative waste management initiatives,” the consultants wrote in the new report.
The draft National Solid Waste Management Strategy is available online at the Ministry of Health website. A ministry release states that government plans to hold open house sessions on the strategy during the week of Nov. 16. Once the strategy is approved, government will begin preparing an outline business case with hopes to implement a strategy in 2017 or 2018.