Work began Tuesday at the George Town Landfill to shred and recycle half a million tires that have been stockpiled at the site for more than a decade.
The processing effort, taken on by Island Recycling and partner company Guernsey Recycling Group, is expected to take around a year, Premier Alden McLaughlin said.
“We have been working tirelessly to implement a strategy that will see not only the issue of used tires resolved, but also the entire waste management system of the Cayman Islands redesigned,” Mr. McLaughlin said during the tire-shredding inauguration.
“We began working to improve the landfill since the start of term, implementing proper management and ensuring not just fire prevention, but safety for the public and those who work here.”
The tire initiative comes as part of larger government efforts to handle the islands’ waste management needs, Mr. McLaughlin explained.
He estimated 90 percent of trash produced in Cayman could be kept out of the landfill through a proper, integrated waste-management system. Government is expected to announce a preferred bidder in April to design and operate a waste management system for a 25-year term.
As part of overall waste management efforts, Mr. McLaughlin said $1.5 million has been invested in new excavators, garbage trucks, a compactor and other equipment.
Once the tires have been processed, Mr. McLaughlin said, the space they currently occupy will be used for composting.
The two-inch rubber chips produced by the shredder will be destined for construction projects. Island Recycling’s managing director, Jason Brown, said the company has signed contracts to source the chips to Davenport Development and Ironwood.
Recycling tires represents a longtime vision of government to address the public health hazard posed by the landfill, said Ministry of Health councilor Roy McTaggart.
He highlighted the progress made over the past three years to reduce waste and finally implement an integrated solid waste management system.