The last in a pile of 670,000 tires that once towered over the George Town landfill was tossed into the shredder Wednesday by Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour.
“We have eliminated an unsightly, particularly dangerous waste product,” Mr. Seymour said. “Rather than just disposing of this product, we were able to use it again.”
Nearly 6,700 metric tons (14.8 million pounds) of shredded tires have been produced since March 2017, when government contracted a private company to shred the tires and sell them for what’s known as Tire-Derived Aggregate – fill – to various developers.
Jim Schubert, the senior project manager for the government’s solid waste management system, said about 5,000 metric tons of shredded tires have already been sold to Davenport Development to fill the site of a condominium the company built in South Sound. The remaining 1,700 tons are expected to be sold to the Dart Enterprises Construction Company, or DECCO, as part of the Integrated Solid Waste Management Project, which aims to close Cayman’s current landfill and open a waste-to-energy plant.
The area previously occupied by the massive tire pile, which burst into flames on Dec. 20, 2013, sending black plumes of smoke around George Town for most of the day, will now be used for composting waste.
The large tire-shredding machine was brought in by Island Recycling company. Island Recycling’s managing director Jason Brown said the machine will be sent back to the U.S., now that the shredding project is complete.
Mr. Schubert said there will still be tires coming into the George Town landfill site before the waste-to-energy operation gets up and running.
“We estimate they come in at the rate of about one tire per person per year,” he said.
There will be a period of 18 months to two years when the tires will have to be stocked up again at the landfill. However, Mr. Schubert said it would take Cayman about 15 years for the tire waste to reach the same state it had got to by 2017.
When the waste-to-energy plant gets going, the tires, along with other construction and development-related refuse, will be burned in the incinerator to create a new power source. Minister Seymour said that will be just one way Cayman’s Integrated Solid Waste Management System will seek to reduce the amount of trash now piled up at the dump.
The new system will include the waste-to-energy plant, recycling and composting centers and a smaller landfill. The current massive landfill in George Town will be capped and covered with grass. The plan also calls for landfills in the Sister Islands to be closed and for the trash to be shipped to Grand Cayman.
“There will be a process for managing solid waste that works much differently from what obtains today,” Mr. Seymour said.
Negotiations on the waste management project between government and a private consortium have not been completed.
The consortium, led by Dart Enterprises, is in line to take over responsibility for waste management in the Cayman Islands in a 25-year deal.