Public urged, but not helped, to recycle e-waste

| 22/01/2021 | 54 Comments
Cayman News Service
George Town landfill (file photo)

(CNS): Government officials are blaming the public for an increase in mixed waste going to the dump, which sparked two small fires there this week. Officials said that people are not separating electronics and batteries and urged them to stop mixing these items in general garbage. But unlike the recycling depots for cardboard, paper, aluminum, glass and some plastics provided at supermarkets, electronics and larger lithium batteries must be taken by members of the public to the dump.

The two separate fires, which were both likely caused by electronic waste igniting as it was compacted on the dump, were dealt with through the combined effort of the Department of Environmental Health and the Cayman Islands Fire Service.

Chief Fire Officer Paul Walker said staff at the dump had notified CIFS early on after they spotted the small surface fires, allowing crews to get to them before they became deep-seated.

“It is their diligence in the early notification, the fact these were small surface waste fires and not deep-seated veins of fire and the prompt deployment of CIFS resources and firefighting equipment that has prevented further fire spread and limited the impact of these two small fires on surrounding residents and businesses,” said Walker. “The minor excavations and damping down was precautionary and aims to reduce the chance of re-ignition from any unseen hot-spots.”

But preventing electronic fires in future may require a more concerted effort by the ministry responsible for the dump. At present, with the exception of recycling tubes at some supermarkets for small household batteries, there is nowhere for residents to take lithium and large batteries or any electronics other than the dump.

“At a mixed waste facility, there is an ever-present risk of ignition when materials are disposed of together,” officials said in a press release, pointing to the disposal of electronic items and batteries in the general garbage causing the fires at the dump.

In addition to the significant risk of ignition when compacted, as outlined by officials, e-waste is also one of the world’s fastest growing pollution problems.

The DEH is asking residents to separate their batteries and electronics from their mixed waste but offered no new services or locations for the increasing amount of e-waste that households and businesses produce in a technology-dependent economy.

The small waste electrical recycling facility located at the George Town landfill drop-off remains the only accessible location for the public to take this type of waste.

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Category: environmental health, Health

Comments (54)

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  1. ( ͡ ͡° ͜ ʖ ͡ ͡°) says:

    Watch this latest episode of Sailing La Vagabonde

    12:49 Recycling in the Azores. …recycle beans are everywhere…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dart is one of the planets biggest single use styrofoam and plastic producers. It has made him billions and enabled him to buy up the best parts of these islands and most of the government.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is this under the remit of our esteemed Health Minister, who is ironically the unhealthiest looking individual I’ve perhaps ever seen? Remember the press briefings, when somebody had to explain to him what garden waste was? It’s clear where the problem is.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is very clear that this government has an extremely low priority on environmental policy I n relation to recycling in waste management. All you need to look at is who they appointed as minister of environmental health. Put an absolute joke there to keep him happy and form their government. They weren’t exactly going to appoint him finance minister were they

    • Anonymous says:

      No. They appointed him as health minister and we are now in the middle of a pandemic. Mind you, not sure he gets to make any decisions in relation to that.

  5. Elvis says:

    Recycling begins with multi million dollar companies churning out plastic everything.

    People dropping bottles into a dumpster always makes me shake my head. It may make you feel you are doing good but its a hopeless cause until companies begin to look at packaging.
    For every one bottle of empty wine u drop in the bin millions more are made.
    All wine boxed maybe? Milk boxed?
    It starts at the top not the bottom unfortunately.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What a beautiful view tourists will have on the way from/to the airport with the new road… Who would say Cayman has a lovely mountain ? 😀

  7. Anonymous says:

    What a joke! Look at the photos from the Premier’s own facebook page of the last big wig meeting they had. I counted at least 8 plastic Water Bottles. I suppose they will now say that they were only contributing to the recycling efforts.

  8. Def Lizzard says:

    Government blaming the people Wow! That’s sounds just like what this narcissistic parasitic mafia would do and will not accept responsibility for this very selfish ridiculous population expansionist scheme to import every economic scion hatched out of this earth so they can live well. Who are. polluting and destroying our environment leaving little or no options for the next generation to live or survive.

  9. Anonymous says:

    CNS, this article is a big LOL.

  10. anon says:

    The problem is like a lot of the dump fires, most of the senior DEH staff are also deep seated to the extent they rarely get out of their luxurious chairs. Hence the dump gets ever bigger, ever smellier and ever hotter.

    • Anonymous says:

      The public is at fault for recycling all that waste in parliament.

    • banon says:

      Anon. You are an expert in garage.

      Come on Cayman we can do better with battery disposal. The Government shouldn’t have to tell us this.

  11. Positive Banon says:

    Come on people we can do this. Be part of the solution.

    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      What we neeeed, is a framework for recycling everything. I suspect the reason we suck at recycling glass and plastic is that no MP’s relative have figured out a way of making a killing doing it. Can’t merely break even, or even make a bit.

      Right now, if I have a depleted nicad lithium battery, the (apparently) most responsible thing I can do with it is bury it my back yard. With a marker, so I can dig it up, should our recycling “program” ever come up to speed with the rest of the developed world.

      • Anonymous says:

        And sending stuff to a recycling facility offshore is not really recycling. Cottage industry is real recycling and no extra fossil fuels expended shipping it somewhere else.
        We must have enough aluminium waste here for someone to start an implement casting facility, even if it’s just for pots & pans? I wonder if CIG would incentivise or subsidise something like this? Similar initiatives might be tested for tyre waste.
        Glass at least is being crushed and recycled back into pavers, decorative concrete and backfill so we are doing something but full recycling potential on island is a long way off. From a global standpoint our prosperity ranking is far out of proportion with our abnormally large eco footprint.
        Our waste management infrastructure is substandard and will choke in the next half decade unless upgraded.

        • Anonymous says:

          No way we have enough aluminum waste production to pay for the costs of an aluminium smelter, even if the recycling processing costs in a country with some of the highest energy costs in the world would make it cost effective. Same issue with all those junk cars. If you want to recycle them then bake and ship is the only way. Glass is a little different – no reason at all we can’t be crushing glass and using it as an additive for fill or for construction.

      • Anonymous says:

        Great idea Beau!

        Plant a battery or plant a tree? What a dilemma.

        I wholeheartedly agree, just adding some Sartre.

      • Anonymous says:

        You nailed it…. the old operator of recycling was unkindly removed because he didn’t want to keep paying the graft and those now doing it are only interested in processing the good stuff to maximize profits …this industry suffers just like any other industry that comes to the island ..bad minded stops it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Dart has all this money so where’s the recycling plant? I pray for those people who are planning on moving into those new townhouses right next to the dump.

  13. Ole Guv says:

    Oh okay government, I’ll start doing my part when you start doing yours.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I was horrified to find out that my landlord (retired British/Cayman lawyer) frequently instructed his ‘helper’ to dispose of old paint cans by digging a hole to bury them in the empty lot next door.
    He also instructs this same ‘helper’ to burn refuse in an empty area of his lot, but only when he is off island so he doesn’t have to smell it.

  15. SSM345 says:

    If the Minster in charge of the Dump put as much effort into fixing the issues that are highlighted in the last 40yrs of Consultant Reports that are conveniently ignored or overlooked every 4 yrs; as he did with his amazing linguistics then we might……

    Never mind.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I do recycle my batteries.

    I have a bag in my closet of my old electronics. A broken Motorola phone. A laptop from pre-2005. An abundance of chargers. I don’t know what to do with this.

    I called DEH who said to take it to the dump. I contacted a few recycling companies who don’t want to take it, they said they don’t do that.

    It’s earmarked for me to take to the US for recycling, if that ever happens. However, I’m a bit worried I will look like a terrorist with an abundance of unworking electronics and wires.

    • Anonymous says:

      Deh is right. Throw it in the car and the next time you’re in the industrial park take it to the dump. They have a section for used electronics. Will take you 2 minutes. Dead easy.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Comprehensive public education campaign on solid waste is required. Not just in schools, all media needs to be engaged and on board. This is an impossible situation to avoid without wholesale public buy in. The same goes for segregation of household waste for curb side pickup. The majority of people in Cayman simply don’t see what benefits and impacts it has on them, so will either need to be receptive to education or incentivised to do the right thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or we’ve long had a suspicion that everything we separate out carefully just ends up at .. the dump.

  18. Anonymous says:

    For decades there have been palettes laid out for batteries, and bins for electronics, appliances and dirty oils at the entrance to the dump. One wouldn’t know unless they’d made the drive, and seen these firsthand.

    Perhaps this continues to be a mystery to so many because the DEH expends zero effort in education/retraining public behaviors and managing their garbage sorting expectations?

    DEH should put large QR code stickers on all DEH dumpsters, which link to a comprehensive website that is regularly updated.

    That site could have: the locations for all public paper/plastic/alum/glass recycling deposits (to reduce the problematic landfill inputs); the definition of hazardous waste, where to deposit; abandoned vehicle and appliance collection protocol/dates; Christmas Tree recycling locations; tire disposal; where to report illegal fly-tipping; penalties for littering; hours of operation for commercial drop offs and fee structure; contact names, numbers, responsible Chief Officer and Minister info, etc, etc.

    Managing public waste competently shouldn’t be a guessing game, especially when the cost of mismanagement continues to be dangerous fires, noxious community air contamination, and the future knock-on health costs to those chronically exposed, due to avoidable ineptitude.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The fact is people are going to continue to place batteries in their garbage cans They are not going to go to the dump to dispose of them. What is so hard to provide a easy place to dispose of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Supermarkets could just install receptacles for used batteries. Of course, Fire Marshall should evaluate fire hazard.

    • Anonymous says:

      We gather our spent household AA/AAA in an old raspberry clamshell and take them to the battery disposal tube at CostULess. It’s a well-marked blue tube by the entry/exit doors. Been there for years. Bigger batteries, propane tanks, old desktops, appliances, and other hazardous materials we take to the special designated area at dump entrance, like everyone is supposed to.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kirk homestore has for small batteries, the dump has for big ones…

  20. Trash says:

    When we will have road side collections for recyclables with colour bins. Government is way out of touch with real world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Similar question to the one I remember a visitor from Florida asking almost 30 years ago as they watched all the bar trash at the old Seaview bar being dumped into one big bin. The answer now, as it was then, seems to be, ‘Never!’

  21. Anonymous says:

    Fixing the dump is the slowest moving project on the planet.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Yawn, fix the damn dump Joey.

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