Declaring that existing waste-management systems are unsustainable, a 201-page draft consultant’s report on the George Town landfill on Monday recommends a $538 million, 25-year public-private partnership to reduce, reuse and recycle.
The outline business case, developed by U.K. environmental consultant Amec Foster Wheeler, recommends the reduction of waste going into the landfill by as much as 95 percent, and includes either remediation or closing of dumps on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
A statement from the Ministry of Health and Culture summarized the options in a seven-point plan naming reuse and refurbishment of bulky waste, waste electrical and electronic equipment; community recycling depots and household waste recycling center facilities; a transfer and bulking facility on each island; composting yard/garden waste from landscapers and household waste-recycling centers in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac; closing landfills on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, with waste sent to Grand Cayman for processing; post-2020 introduction of curbside yard and garden waste collection; and potential introduction of curbside dry recyclable collections and a post-2020 materials recovery facility.
Weighing affordability and the complexities of implementation and delivery, the consultants conclude that a public-private partnership offers “the best value for money” in a “design, build, finance, operate and maintain contract,” according to a KPMG financial analysis as part of the report.
The report says a public-private partnership that includes support from local government is more likely to attract overseas interest from companies “with a … record of building, implementing and operating integrated waste management system solutions.”
Additionally, it says, government-private sector shared responsibilities “facilitate a high level of risk transfer to the [private] partner,” reducing government’s “internal requirements for contract management and monitoring.”
By comparison, simply maintaining present management techniques and “a status quo-type system of just landfilling waste on the islands,” the ministry said, would cost $418 million during the same 25-year period. “For the extra investment … of around $4.8 million per year,” the ministry said, “the proposed solution will greatly reduce the landfilling of waste, as it will be either reduced, reused, recycled or recovered.”
Both the ministry and the consultants pointed out that initial plans to mine waste, converting it to energy, were rejected because of “long-term nuisance conditions from mining, such as odors,” which “outweigh the benefit of gaining back the small area of landfill space.”
“For those who have been saying ‘fix the dump,’ I will point out again that this is what this project is about. But it goes beyond fixing a dump to providing a long-term solution of waste management needs of all three Cayman Islands,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said in a press release.
“I am very pleased that we have gotten to this point where we are publishing the draft outline business case for the very first integrated solid waste management plan for the Cayman Islands.
“If you ask me [if] I wish we could have gotten to this phase sooner, the answer would be yes, but we have dutifully followed the steps required by the framework for fiscal responsibility, which mirrors the U.K. Treasury’s Green Book for managing projects such as this. The process may seem long, but it is sure and will ensure we have the best, most viable solution.”
The premier pointed to “dramatically improved” operations at the landfill already “by re-establishing proper practices. Government, he said, has “spent millions of dollars on new equipment, including a state-of-the-art compactor and garbage trucks.
“We have also increased our focus on recycling, including old tyres, and will soon be moving towards composting,” he added.
The report envisions a four-year period for “procurement and construction” and $106 million in construction costs. Work is expected to start no sooner than September 2017.
The document projects annual operating costs over the 25-year period of $423 million, partially offset by annual revenues during that period totaling $269 million, although it remains unclear if that figure is reduced by the now-discarded effort to mine the landfill’s collected waste.
The study pegs annual revenues from converting waste to energy at $108 million. Collection fees are predicted to top $118 million, and annual tipping costs to generate another $41.6 million.
The study does not identify possible partners, leaving the selection to competitive bidding, which could involve subcontracting by local companies.