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, known to some residents as 'Mount Trashmore'.
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 be a final successful attempt at 'fixing the landfill', which has been promised for decades.
The government's planned spending on this remedation work in 2022 is CI$21.7 million, with a further CI$2.3 million being spent in 2023. It is anticipated that this facility will be operational by 2026. The total cost of just over CI$200 million is 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 at a new site adjacent to the George Town landfill for the next 25 years.
It is expected that the facility will have the capacity to divert up to 95% of waste from the landfill by incinerating the garbage and using the heat created to drive steam-powered turbines. 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.
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 re-use 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 closing 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 incredibly large waste issue.
Cayman is already benefiting 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.