Ex minister says ‘Trash ain’t treasure’

| 24/05/2016 | 28 Comments
Cayman News Service

Junk depot in George Town

(CNS): Given the economies of scale, it is very difficult to generate a profit from recycling in Cayman but it is an essential part of addressing the growing waste problem and government needs to make the necessary investment, according to Former Cabinet minister Rolston Anglin, who is co-owner of Junk, a recycling business. He said the company was pulling out of collecting recylable garbage from supermarkets because it costs more to collect and ship the recyclables than it can sell them for. “Trash ain’t treasure,” he said.

“It is a myth that recycling is a lucrative market,” Anglin told CNS.

The former education and employment minister said Junk would continuing in the recycling business as it has private sector clients that pay for the collection service, but the company was no longer in a position to subsidise the supermarket collections. He said pick-ups were reaching five days a week because of the amount of recycling that was being dropped off but the supermarkets were paying only a small contribution towards the actual cost of collection.

“It was essentially a public service where Junk was trying to demonstrate to government and get its attention that people will take their recyclable materials to the supermarket,” Anglin said.

Cayman News Service

Recycling in container at Junk

The government had plans to introduce its own recycling project and Junk was the only company to bid on a recent request for proposals for collecting all recyclables from eight locations five days a week, sorting and then shipping out the material.

Anglin said he had costed that project at around $488,000 per year but government said it was too expensive. The former minister said he believed that the bid offered value for money and that it was as low as the firm could go based on what government wanted. He said that while he had no intention to run in the 2017 election he may in future go back into politics, so he was not trying to milk the public purse.

He showed documents to CNS that demonstrated the cost of collecting, sorting and shipping the recyclables to the US and the rates Junk receives in return for the materials and said it was clear there was very little treasure to be found in Cayman’s trash.

The average price Junk gets for a pound of paper and cardboard is just 3.5 cents, while plastic generates only around 6 cents a pound. Aluminum cans are one of the few commodities that can generate a small profit, though the price that Junk gets is around 26 cents at present, some 50% down on prices last year, Anglin noted.

But around the world, he said, most governments subsidise waste-management schemes, especially recycling, as it is not just about money but the environment.

Recycling on a small island with low volumes, Junk has no negotiating power and they are forced to sell to the middle men, so they don’t get the best price, Anglin explained. But he said many Junk customers are willing to pay because they don’t want to see the dump continuing to grow and, in the absence of government action, recognise that we have to do something to reduce the amount of rubbish going into the landfill.

The only way to make recycling viable was to ensure that everyone is recycling, which means government must invest in a national collection programme to generate the volume to improve their negotiating power and cover the costs, he said. Junk is still talking to government about sorting and shipping if it decides to take over the collection, and Anglin said he hoped that in time CIG would come back to the table and between them they could work out a viable solution.

It is now not clear when, or even if, government will take over the recycling sites just as shoppers were getting used to sorting glass, cans, plastics and paper and dropping them in the skips on their regular supermarket visits.

Roy McTaggart, the councillor in the premier’s ministry, which deals with environmental health, told CNS that officials were working to ensure that the expanded recycling programme, initially started as a commercial initiative by Junk, continues once they ceased providing the service this coming weekend. But he was not able to give details and asked members of the public to monitor the ministry’s website and the Department of Environmental Health for further updates.

The premier and ministry officials made a number of announcements last year that indicated that a recycling service as well as a composting programme would have been well under way by the start of this year, but as 2016 gets close to its halfway point, the level of recycling appears set to decline rather than expand.

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Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a really sad outcome for Junk had a great future and was growing steadily in the business and were doing a great job in providing this badly needed service to the community. Reading between the lines it appears that the Junk business has not been managed, operated or developed along with the increased growth in their business. What a wonderful problem to have “Too Much Business” so much so that you cannot handle it. If the owners really knew what they were doing in the waste business, they would have operationally and logistically developed their business to meet the growth and demand in the business. More waste demand on the business, requires a scaling up of the logistical efficiencies of the handling and processing of the waste and a greater investment into capital equipment required to efficiently operate the business. Junk’s business of recyclable waste collection enjoys a guaranteed but fluctuating residual value for all the waste it collects, unlike the CIG who collects waste of mostly no value whatsoever. Junk has dropped the ball on their business and will probably forego realizing a successful future for their business as a vital service to our community.

  2. Russell says:

    I really believe income tax is inevitable for this country to survive and meet the demands of the ever increasing social issues. Obviously if they tier the tax ratio whereby the poorest pays the minimum and the wealthiest pays the highest, then all the garbage issues would be resolved and mount trash more will be no more. Just my two cents worth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear, if they did that Russell all the highest tax payers would be off like a shot somewhere else. Plus most of them have certificates guaranteeing 20 or 30 years tax free…so forget it. It would never work.

    • Taxed says:

      The weight and burden is already on the backs of the poor and the backs about to break. The problems always start up top and look for solution at the bottom (poor people). There is no income in cayman that justifies being taxed besides the income of the bankster and financial white collar mafias.

    • Joe B says:

      It would be much easier and way more lucrative to stop the Government waste of tens of millions of dollars wasted each and every year and put it to good use. But that looks to be the way of the Cayman Islands till further notice.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Love the headline. so why is he in it? oh sorry forgot he is the Red Cross.. Still taking us as fools. Run again and we will show you what not treasure to us.

  4. george tustin says:

    Everyone knows that “there is money in muck”. When I was involved in the early days of recycling paper in the ’60’s I met millionaires who had made their fortune by salvaging waste paper.

    It was obvious to everyone that Junk had got it all wrong. The mess created at every collection point was clear evidence of their poor management. To have the small household plastic bins with lids for glass and the large metal bins with dirty heavy lids for, literally, anything else that had to be manually shoveled out showed that Junk had not looked at good practice in the rest of the world where fit for purpose containers that can be mechanically handled have been in use for years.

    My hope is that the Government, unlike Junk, will do a proper job and instead of “trying to invent the wheel” look at good practice elsewhere, and copy it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nobody’s gonna trust “the ministers” numbers. Been there, done that.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In Europe you get at least 4 trash cans per household in which to put the relevant glass, plastic etc and it is collected as part of your local taxes. Now obviously we don’t have direct taxes here currently, however the long term cost of the trash removal, mount trashmore plus the fly dumping and so on is going to be a lot more long term than the cost just to provide the service for free. So CIG, just get on with it, it is Cayman’s future and no one in government seems to give a damn.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If DoEH plans to subsidize Junk collections from supermarkets, then why is Cayman 27 Reporting that Junk is removing the bins entirely from grocery stores? This is another terribly managed transition with a very logical solution that everyone can see. It’s a “one phone call” solution Roy. Pick up the phone.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Not only Rolston Anglin but Winston Connolly. Where there is smoke there is fire. All about the “moulah” people all about the “moulah”.

    CNS: Apparently Winston Connolly is no longer involved in Junk.

  9. Anonymous says:

    let dart do it….

  10. Anonymous says:

    Most private households of Cayman aren’t paying garbage collection fees to begin with. If that were a level playing field then there would be ample gov’t budget for a full recycling program and significant decline in landfill waste input. We are at least 20 years behind the modern world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here we go again. I paid garbage fees every year for as long as the government was collecting such fees over the past years. Providing the fee is not exorbitant I would pay for garbage collection primarily to ensure the proper disposal of garbage. I have been utilizing the recycling program by dropping my items to the back of Fosters at Countryside and thought it was a great initiative, now find it quite disappointing that there is a glitch in the program. I do agree if government charged for collection it could now pay JUNK the fee they are charging for collection. This might be a stretch but I wonder if the glitch has come about because Mr. Anglin, who is a past Minister, is now being penalized. We do know that is how this Government play ball!! They will do anything to prevent him from making an honest living. I also wonder which one of the present Ministers is now lining up to start up their own recycling business, considering the variety of businesses a particular Minister is now involved in. How much time does he really spend on Government’s business when he seemed to be stretched to the limit on his own private businesses. I wonder if it is now time for him to waive his government pay cheque or go private fill time.. Believe me as a voter, I would have no problem obliging him next time around.

    • Anonymous says:

      When we built our home in 2007 we happily paid a $100.00 fee to the DOE for a yearly garbage pick up fee. In 2008 and that household fee was eliminated by Government, saying it was a hardship on homeowners. We would gladly pay that fee if it were reinstated and would also pay for recycling.

      • Anonymous says:

        The trouble with this is that there are people who just wont pay it, will point blank refuse and just dump their stuff wherever no one is watching. Regrettably its just human nature, or inhuman nature as I prefer to call it. Central Government will pay less to collect than to remedy the resulting (and ongoing) mess.

        • Anonymous says:

          And by the way,1:24, the people who refuse to pay it are not American, Canadians, British etc.They are West Indians, like my Caymanian neighbour who for 30 years threw his garbage in the bush at the back of his land because he thought paying for garbage collection fees was a communist thing. Well, he is after all an East Ender but when the rats were scurrying all about his property he brought DEH in to set traps/poison which they did..free of charge!! No communism there. Only in Cayman, bobo.

        • Anonymous says:

          Private homeowners ought to have mandatory registration for garbage collection via block/parcel mail out and secured with valid ID and pre-paid Jan 1 with a credit card. First 2 bags per week are included in an Annual fee, third and subsequent bags are $10 and so on. Like an airline. Keep track with a simple tablet interface using location services. A system
          Like that would reward recycling and penalize wastefulness, reducing overall input into the dump. It would create revenue and jobs for unskilled labour and those “unemployable” with criminal records. There would still have to be some public dumpsters in the slumlands – ie. those socially ignored who somehow live without power, sanitation, or running water. They probably don’t have credit cards. How many of those would there be?

          • Anonymous says:

            If they cant administer proper collection of trash now, how on earth do you think they are going to count how many bags you throw away or collect the extra? Even if they could the third and subsequent bags would end up in the undergrowth-people just are not honest.

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly.$100. nothing. Absolutely sod all. What ‘ hardship’ is that to a household over a year…..? Smh. Politics at work again or shall we say vote buying..

    • Anonymous says:

      yep…abolishing garbage fees was classic caymanian forward thinking…….

    • Anonymous says:

      Try 40 year behind!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      But didn’t Mac’s government impose an extra 2% tax on imports and remove the garbage fees, so the subsidy for recycling could come from that, surely.

    • Anonymous says:

      Import duty went up to allow garbage fees to be withdrawn, especially as some households didn’t pay the collection fee. Adding it to import duty made sure everyone paid. So Govt is getting paid by us already.

      • Anonymous says:

        Import duty is not paid by some among us because they do not have a Visa to travel to the USA where we import most things to incur import duties. Ironically those people along with the Caymanians who have no pride in their homeland are the ones continually tipping the junk all over the place. I really do not care who gets offended by my comments, I am just sick and tired of the way this island is being disrespected by these people.
        Government can make arrangement with Water Company- Cayman to tag on the garbage bill to the water bill and force them to pay it through that office. Everybody needs water and those who live in low income apartments with the utilities being split among them by the landlord then the landlord should be responsible for the garbage bills as they are for the other utilities bill. it is not rocket science and Government must get tough on this. Everyone should share this burden and government need to start kicking some butts here and ensure that this place is cleaned up. We are a tourist destination, a high net worth financial center along with our own decent law abiding local population and I will speak on all of our behalf and insist that this mess is sorted out ASAP. Bring back the garbage fee guys, let us get this done.

        • Anonymous says:

          Do you just not get it? Government has already made provisions to collect the garbage fee by tagging it on to the import duty. This was what the 2% increase was for. What needs to happen is that Government accounting needs to break out the 2% collected on import duty and assign it to garbage collection and stop wasting it on their pet projects.

          The thought that you do not pay import duty because you do not have a VISA and do not go to Miami to shop, is absurd. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in this Island pays import duty whenever you buy anything at a store or supermarket or pay electricity, the supplier does not “pay” the import duty, they simply add it to the cost and pass it on to the local consumer.

          If you consume, you produce garbage, so, this seems like a fair way to collect from everyone who produces the garbage in the first place.

          Just thought . someone needed to point that out to you and others on here who think government needs to impose another garbage tax on the people who live in this island.

          For the record, I am certain that the private sector that was supplying this service for a fixed cost was being more efficient than the DOE will be when they take it over. I loathe the fact that the PPM thinks it is a good idea to take this service over and grow the civil service bigger. The cost accounting will never be accurate as they will try to hide costs to show that it is cheaper for them to hire extra people to carry out this service

    • Sonia says:

      Thank you CIG for ensuring that our money is being spent wisely. This is a refreshing change.

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