For a long time, the environmental trifecta was reduce, reuse, recycle, symbolised by the three chasing arrows that make up the international recycling logo. But, by themselves, the “three Rs” are not enough to complete the waste hierarchy.
As the preferred bidder to implement the integrated solid waste management system and following the Cayman Islands Government Business Case, the Decco Consortium will be responsible for developing a public communication plan to support the objectives of a new waste management strategy in the Cayman Islands.
The waste hierarchy for the integrated solid waste management system is based on the European waste hierarchy, which evaluates processes for dealing with waste from most favourable to least favourable.
Presiding at the top of the waste hierarchy is the principle of reduction. Because all products and services impact the environment in one way or another, reducing how much we produce and consume is essential to conserving natural resources. On an individual level, the process of reducing begins with careful thought about how the products and services consumed impact the environment and refusing those options in favour of more sustainable alternatives. Simple things like switching to reusable refillable water bottles or coffee cups have a significant impact on reducing waste.
Because recycling also has an environmental impact, the waste hierarchy places reuse above recycle. This means reusing products for their original purpose more than once or turning them into something else that can be reused indefinitely. For example, with a few quick adjustments, a plastic water bottle can be transformed into a self-watering system for your plants or a bird feeder.
For single-use items that cannot be reused, recycling is the best option. On Grand Cayman, aluminium, plastics 1 and 2, paper, car batteries, electronic waste and waste oils are shipped overseas for recycling, while glass bottles are crushed into aggregate to be used locally.
For any items that cannot be avoided, reused or recycled, the waste hierarchy recommends recovering energy from those products through a waste-to-energy facility. The integrated solid waste management system will include the construction of a waste-to-energy facility that will recover energy from waste that would otherwise be landfilled, preventing these items from accidentally ending up in the marine environment. This facility will produce approximately 8 per cent of the total electrical energy currently required to power Grand Cayman.
Even when these “four Rs” are practised, there will always be some items for which the only solution is safe disposal in an engineered landfill. Since this is the least favourable option in the waste hierarchy, the integrated solid waste management system aims to divert 95 per cent of waste from the landfill.