Dart not allowed to import rubbish

| 30/03/2021 | 37 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin gave an emphatic “no” when asked by CNS following last week’s press briefing if Dart would be allowed to import additional rubbish to burn in the waste-to-energy facility it has now been given the green light to build. Following the announcement that a deal has finally been signed with the preferred bidder, Peter Ranger, the chief project manager of the Major Projects Office (MPO), said there was nothing in the contract to prohibit it but government, not the developer, was responsible for collecting the garbage for the WTE plant. He said there was no incentive or opportunity for Dart to bring in more waste to feed the new facility as a result of the basis of the contract.

Dart’s profit for this project will come from two revenue streams. Firstly, the CI$163 per ton it will receive for processing waste, and secondly from the energy it will sell to CUC from the burned rubbish. That rate has not yet been agreed between government, Dart and the power provider but once it is, it must be cleared by OfReg. Given that CUC is expected to cap the amount of energy it will agree to take, there will be little incentive for Dart to even try to import garbage to increase profits on that side of the balance sheet.

While government remains in a position to bring in waste from elsewhere, there is little motivation for it to do so. Because the public purse will be paying for Dart to process the garbage, importing more would increase costs, making it very unlikely that any future government would, under the current 25-year contract, gain any advantage from allowing Cayman to become a dumping ground for the region’s rubbish.

Under the deal, government has guaranteed a supply of waste to make it worthwhile for Dart. The contract calls for a commitment of 80% of the current level of garbage production, which will allow government room to maintain some recycling processes. So unless the country sees significant population growth, this means that government will not be heavily incentivized to promote any significant reducing, reusing or recyling efforts at the current garbage production rate.

However, Ranger stated that government will only be able to reduce the cost of waste processing by reducing the amount of waste. He said that this would provide the motivation to utilize alternative waste management solutions other than burning the garbage to cut costs, especially if there is a significant growth in a population. He said that government may choose to emphasize recycling and repurposing efforts over cost as part of future solutions.

The contract that was signed Friday covers the next 25 years, which should give Dart time to recover its CI$205 million investment from the processing of garbage and from burning it in the waste-to-energy plant. After 25 years it will hand over the facilities and the remediated landfill to the government.

During the briefing, Ranger outlined the timeline and plans for the project and how government will be managing the collection and processing of garbage over the three years it is expected to take to fully remediate the existing 100ft dump, aka Mount Trashmore, and complete the waste burning facility to the south of the current landfill.

Despite the almost four years of talks to reach what appears to be an eleventh hour deal, the government continues to claim this had nothing to do with the election date. However, the agreement to press ahead is still a long way from a full resolution to Cayman’s myriad waste problems. Cameron Graham, Dart’s president development delivery and infrastructure, said he was looking forward to turning the government’s vision for sustainable waste management into reality, but he pointed out that it will take over three years to roll out the WTE.

Ranger said that, despite the lengthy negotiations to get to this point, there was no specific stumbling block to getting this deal signed from the point when Dart was selected as the preferred bidder. He explained that the starting point was a standard contract taken from the UK but it needed considerable adaptation, and he described a continuous honing of the contract to make it fit the needs in Cayman. Ranger also said there was a focus on finding better ways to deliver the services in partnership with the Department of Environmental Health, which will remain fully responsible for collecting and the overall management of waste.

McLaughlin said the signing of the contract less than three weeks before the election date did not mean that any corners were cut or concessions made that would not have been otherwise to make sure the deal got over the line before the end of this administration. “The country overall, whether they support the government or not, should be incredibly happy that we have finally reached a point where there is a comprehensive, sustainable way of managing Cayman’s solid waste for a quarter century,” he said, and called the contract signing a landmark achievement.

“This signing represents a historic achievement for the Cayman Islands and the final step towards the delivery of a modern, 21st century solid waste solution that will have tremendous benefits for the environment, our community and future sustainable growth,” he said. “Following the government’s National Solid Waste Strategy, these new facilities have the capacity to divert up to 95% of waste from being landfilled in the future and contribute 8.5 megawatts of renewable energy to the grid.”

But it is not a final step. There are many more before Cayman achieves that ambitious goal, the next being an environmental impact assessment (EIA), the terms of reference for which will be available shortly for public consultation, officials said. The EIA is expected to take about a year and only then can the planning application be heard, unless Cabinet uses its powers to waive that critical step and move directly to construction. This will all happen alongside the processing of the tonnes of waste Cayman produces every week, with few affordable or convenient alternatives for the public other than throwing everything in the trash.

Remediation of the existing dump, which is being funded by the Environmental Protection Fund to the tune of some $27 million, will be happening at the same time. This includes, over the coming years, completing the capping and covering the mound of waste, planting grasses and other plants, managing the landfill gas generated within the waste, controlling storm water run-off, and environmental monitoring of air, surface and groundwater quality. Until the WTE facility is complete and the gases can be diverted there, they will be flared-off to prevent excessive emissions.

As the process rolls on, the risk of dump fires will remain, especially in the reduced tipping area where garbage will continue to be dumped. The areas described by officials as legacy waste stockpiles, such as the scrap metal area, which set ablaze last week, and the tyres will also continue to pose a fire risk. The public will continue to be asked to take on the responsibility of separating their electronic waste and taking it to the depot at the landfill themselves to reduce the potential for ignition during compacting.

In addition to the risk of more fires at the dump, there is a complete lack of any policy to encourage reductions in the waste generated, the reusing and repurposing of goods discarded by residents and businesses, a successful composting scheme or a comprehensive recycling system. Officials were vague on how Cayman will fulfill its policy commitment to the inverted waste pyramid, given that there have been no moves by government to address how we can reduce the waste we produce in the first place or to promote the reuse and repurposing as an alternative to throwing things away.

See the signing brochure in the CNS Library.

Watch Friday’s press briefing on the project on CIGTV below:

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Category: Environmental Health, Health

Comments (37)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “Not allowed” for the next two weeks Alden gets a say in anything (even then, only as good as his word has proven to be), and long before any practical handover of this project.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bless you all. I remember when times were so much simpler. Like the not so olden days when Mac only wanted to build an oil refinery.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Time will tell.

    Once all the garbage is burned in x years let’s see them change their mind …

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dart does not want to be in the garbage business, he is stepping up to the plate because our leaders have failed us, and us Caymanians failed to hold them accountable.
    For God sake government, at least initiate a recycling program!

    • Anonymous says:

      I was actually going to say…no need to import trash. There is plenty already there, just look at the leaders 😂

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think that importing rubbish is a bad idea. But I’m glad it’s in the hands of (a future) government and not King Dart.

    Also, it’s only a small point in this article – but looks like CUC is AGAIN trying to thwart any competition in the energy sector and AGAIN trying to squash green energy sources.

    • Anonymous says:

      “I don’t think that importing rubbish is a bad idea.” I think we imported enough already but it is really hard to get rid of it once it reaches our shores.

    • Anonymous says:

      There’s nothing green about wte!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dart could burn overcapacity Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac landfills for years until a supporting population grows to their 100,000 sustainability target. We need to read the agreement fine print to make sure the people of Cayman will not be paying for “fuel” three times.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suspect our landfill is not suitable for wte as it was never sorted so will cerainly contain heavy metals and other contaminants that would be extremely hazardous to burn.

  7. Anonymous says:

    We don’t need to import we have enough here now to last us for a lifetime!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Surely if Cayman could import other crap for say $175p/ton, we’d actually make some money from the deal.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Easter Camping alone will produce enough to run the island for a year at a time.

  10. Anonymous says:

    65000 ppl x bag per day 4.5 lbs = 292500 lbs =146.25 tons x

    • Anonymous says:

      Our plant-based recycling family of four barely fill a bag once a week. We take out 3/4 full bags only so that we don’t get kitchen odors from pet stuff. A full bag per person every day is way too much waste to be generating.

  11. Say it like it is says:

    Don’t forget we will be transporting all the garbage from the Brac and Little Cayman to George Town.
    I would also like to commend CNS on an excellent article, most commenters fail to appreciate the amount of research and time spent in producing an in depth commentary on a subject like this one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hear hear….these girls work miracles on a shoestring budget. Imagine if they had a backer with resources and capital? What havoc they could wreak.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Cayman does not have enough garbage to run WtE. That is why more garbage is needed.

    Sweden for example is importing trash from other countries like Norway, the UK, Italy and Ireland

  13. Anonymous says:

    You sure, Alden? It would not be the first time that you and the Progressives have blatantly lied to the public.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dart imports rubbish all of the time.

      Nothing here to see, move on.

    • Anonymous says:

      Article says – “there is nothing in the contract to prohibit it but”. I thinks that leaves it crystal clear for Dart to do whatever they want and our esteemed leaders to say there was nothing they could do about it.
      Wonder what other sweetheart deals are allowed in this election night contract signing?
      Thank you Mr. Premier for the words of confidence, just like the road in Red Bay.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hmm sounds like a good idea to me, take other countries waste and produce our own electricity

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for the words of wisdom Dart employee

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not a Dart employee or the original poster, but it does seem the biggest obstacle here to a better more efficient system is CUC being unwilling to take progressive steps, they are the same with solar.

        They are a business and have their 6% dividend or whatever it is to pay and that’s their prerogative.

        It is however disheartening to read that CUC is capping the possibilities for waste to energy, presumably to continue burning diesel and that recycling is now not a priority for the government or likely to become one.

        Based on the article I don’t think Dart are the bad guys here.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Well that certainly makes me feel better… LOL Ripe for further corruption for sure.
    Just you wait and see…

  16. Anonymous says:

    We most certainly do not need other countries’ trash coming here.

  17. Anonymous says:

    He will get plenty from our beaches. The generous 3rd world countries to the south east are sending us a steady supply.

    • Anonymous says:

      Over 50% of beach plastic is from fishing complex, driven by (mostly) first world demand.

    • Anonymous says:

      And don’t forget those to our North-East, particularly those that use French products!

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