One of the most pressing environmental issues for the community is the George Town landfill site, a Government facility that manages the waste that visitors, residents and businesses on the Islands produce. It is known to some residents as 'Mount Trashmore'. This great mound of rubbish is evidence of the waste legacy of many generations.
The George Town Landfill
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. This is called Project ‘ReGen’. Currently, the pile-up of waste can be seen from offshore and is visible to locals, residents and visitors. However, Project ReGen will see a waste-to-energy facility the height of a 10-storey building built close to the existing landfill to manage most of Cayman’s waste.
This new landfill will be properly lined and all incinerated waste will be disposed of correctly in the small, controlled site. The Cayman Islands Government is hoping that this will finally be a successful attempt at 'fixing the landfill', which has been promised for decades.
Though there has been great discussion and debate in the first quarter of 2023 regarding the overall cost of Project ReGen, the current plan is as follows.
The Government's planned spending on this remediation work in 2022 was CI$21.7 million, with a further CI$2.3 million assigned for 2023. It is anticipated that this facility will be operational by 2026. The total cost of just over CI$200 million is being subsidised by DART Enterprises. Operations will be split between the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) and a private consortium of companies led by DART. Together they will take over responsibility for the treatment of all waste management for the next 25 years at a new site adjacent to the George Town landfill.
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 Islands' electricity needs.
How ReGen is Expected to Look:
Source: ©2021 Waste Solutions Cayman Ltd.
What to Expect
Once completed, the project will not only turn the George Town landfill site into a remediated green space by covering the waste piles with crusher-run, geotextile lining, grass and vegetation, but it will also see the construction of a new waste management facility located in a 34-acre area immediately south-west of the landfill, which will manage all recyclable and non-recyclable waste for Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. It is expected that the facility will have the capacity to divert up to 95% of waste from the landfill by incinerating the rubbish and using the heat created to drive steam-powered turbines.
There will be bays at the facility’s recycling area to collect and bale various recyclables, such as numbers 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 unwanted but functional 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 that it will close following the design, construction and commissioning of a fully up-and-running sustainable waste management system. Upon completion of Project ReGen, Cayman should no longer be faced with an unmanageably large waste issue.