Integrated Solid Waste Management System
In November 2014, multi-national engineering company AMEC Foster Wheeler was awarded a consultancy contract to prepare a national strategy to determine the direction of solid waste management in the Cayman Islands for the next 50 years.
To help develop the waste strategy, the Cayman Islands Government (CIG) adopted the below waste hierarchy model “reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and dispose” to reduce the amount of trash being sent to landfills.
AMEC Foster Wheeler will also prepare an Outline Business Case (OBC) and provide procurement support for an integrated solid waste management system (ISWMS) project that will be based on the strategy.
Members of the steering committee overseeing the project include representatives from the Ministry of Health, Department of Environmental Health, Department of Environment, Ministry of Finance, Public Works Department, Public Health Department, Water Authority, Planning Department, and one private sector representative.
An initial Strategic Outline Case (SOC) was developed for the future ISWMS and was approved by Cabinet in May 2014.
National Solid Waste Management Policy (NSWMP)
The future collection, treatment and disposal of waste in Cayman Islands will be underpinned by the solid waste policy which has been established by the CIG. The policy sets out the vision, values and strategic directions for the delivery of a new ISWMS following a public consultation exercise undertaken in June/July 2015.
A vision for solid waste management, the values that will guide public sector work in this field, as well as strategic directions and corresponding objectives are all outlined in the document. While the vision calls for “integrated, sustainable and effective waste management for the Cayman Islands”, the values stipulate that this must take place in the context of a waste management hierarchy that prioritises reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery, and views disposal as a last resort.
Collaborations and partnerships with multiple sectors are another key area of focus as is the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Policy contributors also stress the importance of personal responsibility in ensuring sustainable waste management, and assert that waste producers should bear the cost of waste management. The strategic directions section of the document elaborates on these requirements, but also points to the importance of protecting human health.
Landfill Site Environmental Review
As part of the consultancy work to develop a National Solid Waste Management Strategy, (AMEC Foster Wheeler completed a Landfill Site Environmental Review report on the Cayman Islands’ landfills.
The report follows on from an environmental review of existing environmental information and initial risk assessment, which provided a series of recommendations for targeted risk based environmental sampling and monitoring. This report is an interpretation of data from both the recent environmental investigation and historical data where appropriate.
National Solid Waste Management Strategy (NSWMS)
The National Solid Waste Management Strategy outlines key policies and objectives for the future management of solid waste and the delivery of an ISWMS within the Cayman Islands.
It also identifies important steps and actions that will be taken to deliver the ISWMS and in so doing, address the current unsatisfactory landfill situation. These actions will aim to improve the sustainability of all waste management practices, make increased use of waste as a resource, and ensure the protection of the Islands environment.
The document also systematically appraises long and short listed options for improvements in waste management, in order to determine which options CIG should seek to develop and deliver. These options cover a variety of areas ranging from recycling depot provisions through to the treatment of the residual waste that remains after recycling.
The ISWMS project includes the following system components, with the ultimate aim of reducing the amount of waste going to landfill by up to 95 per cent from current landfill amounts:
- Waste reduction measures – including waste education and pragmatic waste minimisation initiatives (e.g. home composting/material return schemes such as bottles, plastic bag charges).
- The reuse and refurbishment of bulky waste, waste electrical and electronic equipment.
- Early delivery of community recycling depots and household waste recycling centre facilities.
- Transfer and bulking facilities (one per island).
- The windrow composting of yard/garden waste from landscapers and Household Waste Recycling Centres(in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac).
- The treatment of residual waste in a waste recovery plant (waste-to-energy facility).
- Provision for potential for landfill mining at George Town landfill, subject to feasibility, for the above waste-to-energy facility.
- Closure of landfills on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, with waste sent to Grand Cayman for processing.
- The potential introduction of kerbside yard and garden waste collection (post 2020).
- The potential introduction of kerbside dry recyclable collections with a materials recovery facility (post 2020).
Waste Management Outline Business Case (OBC)
National solid waste management in the Cayman Islands would be best dealt with through a public private partnership (PPP), a draft outline business case has recommended. Prepared for the Cayman Islands Government by environmental consultancy company Amec Foster Wheeler, the outline business case (OBC) is now available for public review and comment.
The report assesses overall affordability and the implementation and delivery options of the proposed Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS). It concludes that a major “design, build, finance, operate and maintain contract” - for the PPP arrangement - offers the best value for money. This is based on the results from financial analysis by consultancy firm KPMG, with estimated operational costs of the new ISWMS project expected to be approximately $538 million over the 25-year PPP arrangement.
In comparison, the operational costs of a status quo-type system of just landfilling waste on the islands, is expected to cost approximately $418 million over a 25-year period. For the extra investment required for the ISWMS project of around $4.8 million per year, the proposed solution will greatly reduce the landfilling of waste, as it will either be reduced, reused, recycled or recovered with the new system and the ISWMS will ultimately reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by up to 95 per cent from current landfill amounts. The ISWMS project also includes costing for the future remediation/closing of the three existing unlined landfills on the islands.
At the time the consultation draft OBC was being drawn up, and the financial models were being run by Amec Foster Wheeler and KPMG, the potential to mine waste at the George Town landfill was considered as a possible component of the future ISWMS project for the Cayman Islands. Since that time, a policy decision has been made to exclude mining of waste from the ISWMS project, as the potential of long-term nuisance conditions from mining, such as odours, outweigh the benefit of gaining back the small area of landfill space. Therefore, while financial information regarding the mining of waste at the George Town landfill is addressed in the draft OBC document, it is no longer under consideration for inclusion in the ISWMS project, and the final OBC will reflect this.
According to the OBC report, a public private partnership is also more likely to attract competition by major overseas companies with a robust track record of building, implementing and operating integrated waste management system solutions.
The public can learn more about the outline business case recommendations at open house sessions at the Government Administration Building on Grand Cayman on 4 October from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the National Trust House on Little Cayman on 5 October from 11.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and at the Aston Rutty Civic Centre on Cayman Brac on 5 October from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Workers Gearing Up for ISWMS Project
Landfill and waste specialists were on-island last week assessing composition of household and commercial refuse for future phases of the proposed Integrated Solid Waste Management System (ISWMS).
The outline business case for the ISWMS project was released last Monday (19 September 2016) detailing the state-of-the-art system which would replace the current landfill in George Town.
Prepared by environmental consultancy firm Amec Foster Wheeler, the report identifies a public private partnership as the best way to deal with solid waste management in the Cayman Islands.
With recycling, composting and a waste-to-energy plant, the new system could reduce landfilling as much as 95 per cent by following the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and recover, providing the basis for a permanent and sustainable solution to waste management.
The two consultant specialists from Amec Foster Wheeler spent several days working with members of Department of Environmental Health staff at the landfill going through sample loads of garbage to sort it into various types of waste, including organic fractions, paper, plastic, metals and glass.
They also took samples of landfill gas to help estimate the gas generation rates that could be captured and used for energy after the landfill is closed and capped.
“Having Amec staff here last week to carry out waste composition and landfill gas generation work provides important information that is required for the future procurement of the ISWMS,” said Jim Schubert, ISWMS senior project manager.
At current rates of waste disposal, the existing landfill will reach capacity in around six years, so the outline business case builds on earlier reports to represent the means by which a previously developed strategy will be delivered and implemented.
According to the report, a public private partnership gives better value for money than the government seeking to deliver the project itself. The collaboration would also allow the government to outsource operations that will require specialist recycling, composting and waste-to-energy equipment, operation and maintenance.
The report makes it clear that the new facilities are needed because the existing solid waste management system is not sustainable, poses a potential threat to the environment and local amenities, and does not make best use of a potential resource that could benefit the community.
“The whole point of the Government’s approach is to minimise the on-going need for a landfill,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin. “The argument for the Cayman Islands is not about where we should put more landfills, but how to avoid the need for new sites at all. Landfill is unsustainable and the last option in the internationally recognised waste hierarchy.”