The amount of waste being managed at Cayman’s three landfills has gone from more than 38,000 tons to more than 158,000 tons in five years.
According to figures contained in the government’s Compendium of Statistics, the waste under management at the George Town, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman landfills combined increased more than four-fold between 2012 and 2017.
Waste being collected from homes and businesses during the same time more than doubled, going from nearly 23,000 tons in 2012 to almost 60,000 tons.
Despite the fact government trash trucks collected 59,656 tons of trash during 2017, a tiny amount – less than 1 percent of that – was incinerated during the year, according to the records provided.
That is a ratio Cayman’s government hopes to change within the next three years.
Plans for a new waste-to-energy plant are now being discussed with a consortium led by Dart Enterprises. Once the plant begins operating, industrial waste, such as tires and construction refuse, will be burned in an incinerator to create a new power source.
Environment Minister Dwayne Seymour said last month that the waste-to-energy process 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.
“There will be a process for managing solid waste that works much differently from what obtains today,” Mr. Seymour said.
The new system will include the waste-to-energy plant, recycling and composting centers and a smaller landfill. The current 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.
One bright spot within Cayman’s current mountainous trash problem, according to the compendium, noted that recycling of paper, aluminum and other materials has significantly increased over the past few years.
For example, no recyclable paper products were processed for the entire year during 2014, but last year 86 tons of the product were processed for recycling. Batteries and aluminum were also recycled at a greater rate last year, according to the figures.
A far greater number of derelict vehicles were also processed at the local landfills during 2017. Records state 1,730 derelict cars were processed at the landfill last year compared to just 71 in 2014.
However, Cayman is still importing far more vehicles than it is getting rid of at the landfill. Statistics showed a total of 4,110 vehicles imported to the islands during 2017, compared to the 1,730 derelict vehicles processed.
The vast majority of the vehicles imported to the islands were second-hand, pre-owned vehicles, rather than purchased new.
Cayman is also seeking to get back on track with the processing of junked cars at the landfill, having recently cleared some 670,000 used tires from the facility, making way for additional derelict cars to be stored there for processing.
Since October 2017, Minister Seymour said the landfill had received 199 derelict cars from around Grand Cayman. He said the ultimate plan for those vehicles was to bale them into scrap and send them overseas for recycling.
The landfill is experiencing challenges with “metal overstock” and at present it simply does not have enough space to keep all the derelict cars on the property, Mr. Seymour said.