One of the most pressing environmental issues for the community is the George Town landfill site – a government facility which each and every day manages the waste that the residents and businesses on the Islands produce.
The George Town Landfill
The 90ft mound can be seen from offshore and is visible to locals, residents and visitors every day, and it is evidence of the waste-legacy of many generations. The proposed plan to tackle Cayman’s ever-growing landfill site is to create a comprehensive Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS) as a public-private partnership. It will include a new landfill that will be properly lined, and all incinerated waste will be disposed of correctly in the small, controlled site. Government is hoping that this will be a final successful attempt at 'fixing the dump', which has been promised for decades.
Operations will be split between the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) and a private consortium of companies, led by DART Enterprises. Together they will take over responsibility for the treatment of all waste management at a new site adjacent to the George Town landfill for the next 25 years. Once completed, the project will not only turn the George Town landfill site into a remediated green space, it will also see the construction of a new waste management facility located in a 34 acre area on the immediately south-west of the landfill, which will manage all recyclable and non-recyclable waste for Grand Cayman, and also Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Project ReGen - 2021
As of March 26th 2021, the Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS) (rebranded as Project ReGen) has begun, as DART has finally signed the contract for works to continue. It has been proposed ReGen will take 3.5 years to complete, where the new ISWMS will be constructed between 2022-2024. The ReGen project hopes to create a long-term, sustainable waste management solution with improved recycling, including the repurposing of materials that aren't recycled into electricity, and the promotion of movement up the 'waste hierarchy'. At an expected cost of just over $200 million, which will be subsidised by DART, parties involved in the project are expecting to create nine integrated facilities with capacity to divert up to 95% of waste from the landfill, in alignment to the National Solid Waste Management Strategy (2016).
How ReGen is Expected to Look:
Source: ©2021 Waste Solutions Cayman Ltd.
The electricity generated will be sold to the Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC), and it is estimated that this will contribute approximately 7.6 megawatts (MW) to the local grid. This translates to approximately 8% of the country’s electricity needs. At the facility’s recycling area, there will be bays to collect and bale various recyclables, such as number 1 and 2 plastics. The facility will also provide composting areas on all three Islands for horticulture/yard waste, and there will be a reuse centre where people can deposit functional (but unwanted) goods and furniture. There is also an educational aspect to the project: a significant amount of work needs to be done to educate the public so that current habits are changed, and more environmentally-friendly recycling practices are encouraged across the three Islands. Until then, the landfill will continue to expand laterally after the height capacity has been reached, with hopes of being closed following the design, construction and commissioning of a fully up-and-running sustainable waste management system.
Cayman is already benefitting from the environmental awareness and legislation from other countries, as larger producers take responsibility for making their products more sustainable. Concern among locals for environmental protection has also grown exponentially; over 83% of those who took part in Amplify Cayman's 2021 environmental impact survey expressed concerns that pollution in Cayman, especially in the natural environment, is not being treated by officials with the utmost importance. Yet, this change of heart, as well as the production of sustainable products, remains crucial to slow the increasing flow of rubbish to the landfill.
Whether you own or are renting a home, making environmentally-friendly choices will help preserve our beautiful Island. The Government is making efforts to shred used tyres, recycle materials and bale scrap metals so that these objects do not take up valuable space in the landfill, whilst also trying to educate both schools and the general public on the importance of home waste reduction. Nevertheless, these changes rely on the participation of Cayman’s population, and people are urged to make the attitude and lifestyle changes required in order to reduce waste, and its environmental impact.