Cabinet on Tuesday approved a new plan for the George Town landfill, including a waste-to-energy plant to incinerate waste.
The new waste management strategy calls for capping the landfill, creating a new recycling facility on the site and reducing the amount of waste going into the landfill by 95 percent.
Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the measure to put the plan out for bids while touring the George Town landfill Tuesday with other officials and members of the media. The proposal has been in the works for years as consultants drafted and redrafted waste management plans for the Cayman Islands.
The premier said the landfill plan is “not simply a matter of ‘fix the dump.’”
“We had to create a long-term solid waste management plan,” he said.
The approved plan looks forward 25 years to use the existing site, plus some land bought around the landfill, to build the new waste-to-energy, recycling and composting facilities.
Chief Officer for the Ministry of Health Jennifer Ahearn said the outline business case shows that the plan is possible and within government’s budget.
“We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel,” she said, noting that the technologies in the landfill plan have been used around the world as part of modern solid waste plans.
The centerpiece of the plan is a waste-to-energy plant that will burn waste sent to the landfill to create energy. The plant will reduce the volume of trash to 3 percent of its original size and the ash will go in a 4-acre landfill pit on the site, according to officials.
Jim Shubert, senior project manager for the waste management plan, said the new recycling facility will help create jobs in George Town. He said several pieces of heavy equipment for sorting and baling recyclable materials should be at the landfill in the coming months, and the Department of Environmental Health will hire a private contractor to run the system.
The new plan, Mr. Schubert said, “processes waste instead of landfilling.” He said the new recycling systems and waste-to-energy plant will create jobs because the landfill will need more people to run the equipment.
The funding for the recycling equipment is in this year’s budget and the equipment has already been ordered.
Mark Rowlands, assistant director for Department of Environmental Health, took the media, politicians and others on the tour through the landfill, showing off improvements in traffic flow, facilities for workers and people dropping off waste, and described the ideas to improve the dump in the new management plan.
He said any new material going into the landfill is being dumped only in one small area at a time, allowing landfill workers to compact it and cover it easily. He explained that the waste was being dumped in 10-foot layers and covered regularly.
Premier McLaughlin said government has already approved the purchase of 12 acres of land around the dump, and probably needs to find another 20 acres.
The additional land will help keep the landfill from getting to capacity before the waste-to-energy plant is in operation and will provide space for some of the new equipment. Consultants with Amec Foster Wheeler estimate it will be five to six years before the landfill reaches capacity.
If the tender process stays on schedule, a contractor could be hired by this time next year. The target to have the waste-to-energy facility and everything else online is in 2019 or 2020.
This story has been amended from the original to correct the size of the land acquisition.