Landfill to reach capacity in 2021, say consultants

Landfill to reach capacity in 2021, say consultants

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. 

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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. 

A garbage truck dumps rubbish at the top of the George Town landfill on Monday. The government has released its draft National Solid Waste Management Strategy for public consultation.

A garbage truck dumps rubbish at the top of the George Town landfill on Monday. The government has released its draft National Solid Waste Management Strategy for public consultation. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

Among the recommendations of consultants on the proposed National Solid Waste Management Strategy is the closure of the landfills on Cayman Brac, pictured, and Little Cayman. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

Among the recommendations of consultants on the proposed National Solid Waste Management Strategy is the closure of the landfills on Cayman Brac, pictured, and Little Cayman. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER
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  1. The consultants do not appear to have done their homework as if they did they would realize that the government is already charging for garbage collection. Let’s not forget that some years ago the government abandoned the idea of the direct collection of garbage fees in favor of an increase in tax on our power consumption. My understanding was that this approach was taken because of the difficulties the government had in relation to the collection of fees owed for garbage collection.

  2. What I would like to know is why the tires have not been removed or a contract been signed? The tender to remove the tires was closed 6 months ago in May of this year, yet no one has started removing the tires. The company selected was counting on a local golf course taking the tires, but that project is on hold. The tires take up a massive amount of space, and although it won’t fix the capacity problem entirely, it will certainly free up some space and buy some time.

  3. I wonder if Government has made any effort to fixing the dump, except paying consultant to say what Government want you to hear. A good garbage collection system starts at the point of origin where you separate your recyclables, and compost, and garbage. Has government made any effort, like contracts to say who pick up this or that,or containers for the different types. I think that if Government has not started yet,this would mean that the people has to make the government do it ,by the way of demonstration /protest,at the same time tell the government/politicians to drop the subject "the dump"in their campaign. Still hearing ,reading,smelling the dump in the year 2015 really says that the people of Cayman Islands need to make the government fix it.

  4. Looking at picture 2 in this article, says it’s disgraceful and disrespectful to the Cayman Islands and the environment that government today year 2015 , do not have some way to properly disposing and recycling of old cars in place.

  5. I have been reading about this problem/issue for almost 3 years now. Can someone quit sitting on their hands and make a bloody decision. I am sure that the views of Mt. Trashmore when the Cruise ships pull in is the right choice. I mean why would the pristine beaches and water be the first thing anyone notices..

  6. The photo of Mini Mt. Trashmore on the Brac does not do justice to the unbelievable sight of the waste of two hurricanes (Ivan and Paloma) and the stench and underground fires that beleaguer that beautiful area of South Side, turning an expensive seafront area into a real estate sales nightmare. How could those thousands of tons of metal waste from houses, cars, trucks, tires, be transported over to Grand Cayman? The cost of barging the waste would be prohibitive. But closing down that garbage dump would be a blessing for the economy of the Brac. Moving the mountain of waste to fill up one of the deep sand quarries on top of the Bluff would seem to be a more inexpensive project and would provide many jobs for locals looking work. Consultants say the landfill (on GC? on the Brac?) will reach capacity by 2021. There are several years left for government to focus on and implement waste-management studies and WtE plans.

  7. A number of years limited beyond 2021? that’s around the corner like Christmas.
    On a serious note I believe we should make the dump situation one of our priorities come 2017.
    If the government does not have the money, then let someone else do it to theirs, and our advantage.
    The people will need to get value for money, a clean environment and a satisfied mind.

  8. I personally find the consultant’s reports to be confusing. It seems that each report is different and has different conclusions. Which report can a person trust? How big will the trash hill be in 7 years?
    Common sense would say that the longer the solution takes the bigger the problem becomes.

  9. The true scandal of this is that in 2006, in response to the tendering request that later turned into the Matrix scandal, the Minister of the day was sent a proposal that in addition to clearing the post-Ivan waste would have created a permanent re-cycling facility on Grand Cayman.

    The written plans, submitted by a company in New Zealand, were backed up by a DVD showing their successful operation in the Cook Islands.

    That approach was not only completely ignored but when the issue was raised by Cayman Net News we were fairly firmly told by CIG to back off.

    If this option had been adopted back then (it could have been up and running in early 2007) a lot of the issues being discussed here would already have been dealt with.

    The proposed re-cycling plant would, for a fairly moderate outlay, have handled tons of reusable material that has since ended up in the dump, it would also have earned revenue for CIG and created jobs.

    Why was it rejected? I am only guessing but my opinion is that nobody in CIG could see a profit in it and I suspect that still might be the problem.

  10. The problem is that dumping trash on the ground in a pile is the cheapest way of disposing of it, assuming the land is cheap.

    Absolutely something should be done about this smelly eyesore. But who will put their hand in their pocket to pay for it?

    I was recently in the UK and found a type of insulation commonly used in homes. It is made from recycled tires. Could we make this here?
    I bought a sample back and will happily make it available.

  11. How many of the people who complain do anything about trying to reduce their waste from landfill today. I have written several letters to the editor regarding this. Today we can recycle on the island with the government the following – home kitchen and yard waste- compost in our own grounds ( yes stratas as well) – glass – plastic- paper- aluminium – items to charity shops. Construction rubble – there is always someone wanting to fill their land.

    I was in an office downtown recently looking at the dump and most of was overgrown with green bush even trees are growing there. As to the tyres they are an excellent feedstock for furnaces and as this has been the proposed approach to WTE for this island I assume that was the real purpose of keeping them.

    Lastly the fix to GT landfill can be very cost effective but nobody is going to get rich from it so this will not be considered instead an overseas firm will be selected to run it and will charge a surcharge to recover profits, which will cost everyone more.

    I favourite quote regarding this matter is "the best form of recycling is not to waste it in the first place" – everyone can be a part of the solution now by waste reduction instead of just moan about it and being a part of the problem – hoping the faries will fix it in the middle of the night!

  12. I was on the design and engineering team back in 1983 and the Cayman Government did not approve the landfill to have a membrane liner system to protect our environment. But they did approve a liner for Little Cayman’s landfill that years later had a fire and destroyed the liner and would not pay to have it repaired.

    This Grand Cayman landfill reached critical capacity back in 1998. The landfill leachate was so bad even back then that we recommended the landfill to be capped to remediate this environmental hazard. So, I do not know who in their right mind would now say 2021…………

    I have been using Waste to Energy technology for many years in North America and this is the solution for Grand Cayman, especially since there is no other location in Grand Cayman for a new landfill. The existing landfill is a gold mine for an energy stockpile for Waste to Energy for many decades.