A new solid waste management plan has been finalized that calls for more recycling, composting and an incinerator to turn waste into electricity for the national power grid.
Consultants with Amec Foster Wheeler and KPMG estimate the George Town landfill will reach capacity by summer 2021. The consultants released a draft report for public consultation in October, and the new report echoes recommendations to reduce solid waste sent to the landfill and incinerate most of the waste that is sent to the dump.
Government’s new budget, approved Friday, includes $6.5 million to buy land for the new waste management project, though it does not say where. An outline business case for the new solid waste management plan is expected to be released in August.
The proposed plan calls for significantly increasing recycling of household goods and bulk waste, potentially including curbside pickup for recyclables and yard waste. It also includes composting facilities for yard waste on Grand Cayman and the Brac, along with the waste-to-energy plant on Grand Cayman that would incinerate trash to produce electricity.
Cayman sent about 65,000 tons of waste to the dump last year, more than one ton for every resident. The consultants say government should be particularly concerned with what to do with its waste as the population in Cayman continues to grow. The consultants write, growth in the amount of trash going to the dump “if left unchecked would result in a considerable increase in the tonnage of solid waste requiring management each year. This would have significant financial and environmental impacts.”
By 2050, the consultants estimate, the people of the Cayman Islands would create between 100,000 and 200,000 tons of waste a year, depending on how much can be diverted for recycling and export.
The report calls for the landfills on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac to be closed and for trash and recyclables to be shipped to Grand Cayman.
The consultants say government could have all the new waste management processes and equipment up and running by 2020. With new composting, recycling and “waste-to-energy” facilities, the consultants estimate that waste going to the landfill could drop from about 60,000 tons each year to little more than 10,000 tons.
The waste-to-energy plant could generate up to 540 kilowatt hours of energy per ton. For comparison, the average household in the United States uses about 900 kilowatt hours per month in electricity, according to U.S. regulators. The Caribbean Utilities Company generated almost 625 million kilowatt hours in 2015, according to the company’s annual report.
The consultants also note that the George Town landfill could potentially be mined “to extract recyclables, recover energy from the waste and to extend the life of George Town landfill.”