Recycling firm to remove tires

An estimated 500,000 to 2 million tires are currently piled up at the George Town landfill. - PHOTO: CHRIS COURT

After five previous unsuccessful attempts to find a buyer for a mountain of scrapped tires at the George Town landfill, officials now plan to pay a recycling firm to get rid of them.

A contract to dispose of the tires has been conditionally awarded to Island Recycling.

Neither the Central Tenders Committee or the Department of Environmental Health were prepared to say how much the company will be paid to dispose of the tires. The Cayman Compass understands that the fee will depend on precisely how many tires are actually at the site.

Previous estimates of the number of tires have varied from 500,000 to 2 million.

Government had hoped to find someone to buy the tires but gave up after five requests for proposals failed to find a suitable bidder.

Roydell Carter, the director of the Department of Environmental Health, said five companies had responded to a revised RFP last year.

“This is the first time government considered paying some money to the successful bidder to remove the tires,” he said.

Mr. Carter said the contract was conditional and had not been finalized as yet. He referred the Compass to the Central Tenders Committee for more details. The CTC had not responded to questions by press time Wednesday. Ultimately, the shredded tires could end up in a new golf course, planned for the eastern districts.

Developer Ironwood said last week that it had received authorization from the Department of Environment to use the shredded tires as fill for its planned Arnold Palmer designed golf course.

The developer says research from its own experts as well as the Department of Environment, showed there would be no environmental cost to using the tires in the golf course.

Mr. Carter said the Department of Environmental Health received no bid from Ironwood to take the tires and the scheme would be subject to a separate agreement between the developer and the winning bidder. Denise Gower, spokeswoman for Ironwood, said in a statement last week, that the company would be taking the tires.

“Undoubtedly, the tires are a significant environmental threat where and as they are. But, the Cayman Islands Government has acted responsibly and has found a viable solution. That Ironwood will be able use material that is currently an environmental hazard and convert it to a product that will benefit the environment is the ideal outcome, for the Government, for Ironwood and the earth,” she said.

The tires have been labeled a health hazard because of the fumes they give off during fires – a frequent problem at the site. They are also eating up rapidly diminishing space at the landfill.



  1. This is just shifting the problem from one area to another. Disposal of tires is a real operational and financial problem everywhere. Even shredded tires tend to work their way to the surface so it will be interesting to see how the Ironwood project goes. My bet is that Island Recycling is going to have a difficult time getting rid of them without creating a problem elsewhere on the Island and will consequently never dispose of all the tires.
    How about having tire retailers collect a fee on every new and used tire they sell to offset the cost of tire disposal. If it cost the government $5.00 to dispose of a tire then set the fee at $5.00.

  2. From what I understand the Ironwood folks offered to take the tires off the CIGs hands for free, an offer that was rejected. The alternative is to pay someone to take the tires from the site who in turn will sell them to the ironwood folks.

    Where’s the sense in that, wouldn’t it have been a better financial decision to just give the tire directly to the Ironwood folks in lieu of paying someone to take them. There has got to be more this than meets the eye.

    Island Recycling is going to make out great on this deal..

  3. I’m glad to read that the gov’t finally came around to getting the tire pile removed, but it’s a shame that it’s taken so long. I believe the most recent attempt before this was mentioned in your January 2014 article (–Cayman-tires-must-hit-the-road/), when Cayman officials were quoted as saying “The removal of tires from the landfill, and preferably from the island, would be at no cost to government, and would be at an agreed price per ton”.

    My comments back then, in part, was “…there’s NO WAY the landfill (gov’t?) will break even or make (money) on the removal of these tires. Used scrap tires have a negative value, not positive”, and “Getting rid of the scrap tire inventory will absolutely cost, even if it’s done perfectly”. I’m glad officials finally reached that conclusion too.

    Current thoughts:

    Officials properly reached the least-cost conclusion that the tires needed to stay on island and be shredded and landfilled (or in this case used as construction fill). Hopefully this moves forward.

    There’s not enough volume for Island Recycling to put in a permanent tire shredding facility, so they’ll likely lease equipment and run it at the landfill to minimize transportation costs. That said:
    —Is a private entity running a business on a gov’t landfill allowable?
    —Has Island Recycling shredded tires before, as it’s not something you just plug in and drop tires into? Gov’t said in the above linked earlier article “…removal operation would be carried out by an experienced operator with expertise in this area”.
    —Ironwood needs to keep in mind that they’ll likely have to blend the shredded tires with other fill like soil, as the tires won’t be shredded small enough to be long term usable fill all by themselves.
    —This deal isn’t done yet! There’s a huge caveat in the agreement, as per this article “the scheme would be subject to a separate agreement between the developer and the winning bidder”. So the winning bidder now has control of the material but no obligation to process and move it unless they can work out an acceptable sale of the shredded tires to Ironwood. From a business owner’s standpoint that’s actually a very wise move on Island Recycling’s part. I’d have done the same.

    —The gov’t may not be able to advise the Cayman Compass of the full cost of the winning bid as they’re unsure of the tire volume, but they should be able to share the tip fee (the per tire payment to Island) and any other cost details (are they providing any equipment or workers to the winning bidder?) at minimum. Will they?
    —Can anyone comment as to what the initially collected per tire tip fee that ended up going into the general fund and used elsewhere was?

  4. Well it took the government long enough to figure out they will not be able to find someone to pay them to take these tire off their hands, now lets see how much longer it will take them to figure out that no one will be able to create a waste to energy plant to solve the dump problem. They may as well get on with another plan for the dump.

  5. @Charles Brown; I could probably get a waste to energy plant up + running in 24 months. It’s very doable for much less than previous articles have intimated too, as Grand Cayman is never likely to have over 100k residents. A relatively small-sized modular facility would be warranted, versus the behemoths that may have been toured or versus a “just for Cayman” custom job.


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