DoEH urges rubbish cut

| 09/12/2009

(CNS): A combination of government cuts, the moratorium on public sector recruitment and an ever increasing amount of trash is putting pressure on government’s waste management services and the Department of the Environmental Health is asking people to cut down on the trash they produce. Already behind schedule on garbage collection due to staff shortages, the department is worried that, while they are almost back on track, the surge of waste associated with the Christmas Holidays could prove challenging if people don’t try to cut back.

Officials from the department said they were working hard to get the garbage schedule back to normal after being forced to reduce collections to once per week. Apologizing to the public for pick-up delays, DoEH Director Roydell Carter explained that the problem was caused by a shortage of collection personnel. “However, we will be putting on extra shifts, employing temporary workers and streamlining operations in order to restore the timely and efficient collection service that our residents deserve,” the director said. “We are also in the process of hiring permanent staff to ensure that there is no recurrence of this situation.”

Carter said crews were already on the road working to clear up the garbage backlog. “Residents should begin to see a return to the normal twice-weekly pick-up schedule by early next week. "I know it has been difficult, but I am asking everyone to bear with us as we work to resolve the problem.”

With Christmas just around the corner, however, the DoEH said it would like to see people generate less waste this season and relieve some of the burden on the department. “People should try to give more meaningfully, waste less and lightening the load for the cleanup crews over Christmas,” officials said. Asking people to give homemade items, entertainment such as museum memberships or tickets to events, restaurant and store gift certificates, the DoEH said this would reduce the amount of packaging which gets thrown away during the festive season and the pressure on the environment.

As Mount Trashmore continues on its endless climb and holds on to the title of the highest point on Grand Cayman, a spokesperson for the DoEH suggested that people think about gifts differently. “Give learning, such as language or music lessons; classes in cooking, photography, or other hobbies,” she said.  The department also suggested giving time or talents such as baby-sitting, pet-sitting, computer assistance or home repairs or to contribute to someone’s favourite charity. With technology offering a whole new waste free resource, the DoEH asked its customers to send email greetings rather than paper cards and to choose reusable gift bags or gift wrap made from comics.

With the Copenhagen climate summit underway, recycling and environmentally friendly waste management projects are still a long way from reality in the Cayman Islands and the increasing amount of trash generated by the community is becoming a major issue for government. During this year’s election campaign the UDP promised to address the problem of waste management. Currently not paper or cardboard or even glass is recycled and all waste generated on Grand Cayman, with its population of around 55,000 people plus visitors ends up at the George Town landfill.

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  1. Ex Pat says:

    Having come from England where refuse collections were once weekly, and then reduced to once fortnightly, I can only say that my impression of the frequency of refuse collection here in Cayman is very good indeed.

    However, sadly, the same cannot be said of recycling initiatives here.  In England we are provided (free of charge) with large wheelie bins for our refular refuse, and separate receptacles for food waste (goes to make compost); clothing (goes to charities and third world countries); newspapers (recycled); glass (recycled); aluminium and tin cans (recycled), etc.  Furthermore, if households do not use their refuse receptacles accordingly, e.g. put glass in the regular refuse, they are fined.  This keeps the refuse going to the tip to a minimum, with all other items being recycled in one way or another and I think a similar initiative here could do wonders to reduce the substantial amount of garbage adding to Mount Trashmore.

    I also feel that the large commercial and financial businesses here have a vested interest in supporting and funding/sponsoring such initiatives, and should be encouraged to invest in a greener future for the island.  I know we used to have a paper recycling facility here.  I heard it was (sadly) destroyed by Ivan and that the government (or whoever) could not afford to rebuild it since… perhaps such revenue could be raised by seeking contributions from the large commercial and financial businesses too… it is desperately needed here.

  2. Rob says:

    The majority of posters who are complaining about the poor trash collection could very well be the same posters who are saying Government is too big and jobs must be cut!!

    This situation is just a preview of what could happen with significant government cuts.

    • Boston Tea Party says:

      I haven’t noticed many posters complaining about garbage collection; nor could they as it is generally extremely good. What is poor is (1) the failure of CIG to collect garbage fees and (2) as seems to be almost universally acknowledged, the lack of any coherent strategy to limit waste, recycle what cannot be limited, and then generate power and water from the rest.

      Oh,  wait.  There might be some vested interests (CuC, WA etc to name just two, not counting the reduction in fuel duty payable on diesel for the generators at CUC) who might not get a look in.  Oh, well then, that’s all right.  Everyone put their blinkers back on.  

      As islands which are very very limited in their height above sea level, we should all be much more concerned.  Have we even sent a watcher to Copenhagen?  I wonder.

      and then there’s the smell… West Bay Road on a Saturday morning in the prevailing wind is shocking.  Bang goes your impression of being in the first world

    • Anonymous says:

      no, the point is that this would not happen in the private sector….. the mismanagement of goverment spending is what has bankrupted this country

  3. Anonymous says:

    One thing that would help is to stop providing plastic bags at all the supermarkets.  That will force shoppers to use the reusable ones instead.  Not many people are using the reusable bags because the plastic ones are still on offer and they are free.  Either charge 25c per plastic bag and put that money towards recycling, or stop providing them altogether.  Shoppers will soon adjust to bringing their own bags.

    It also shocks me how cashiers will literally pack 1 or 2 items per plastic bag, resulting in using 10 bags, when 2 would have carried all the shopping.

    Have a little consideration for the environment next time you go grocery shopping and bring your own reusable bags.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am the blogger of the post Wednesday 12/09/09 – 16:31 and while I remain critical of the current situation and the request of the DoEH for us to ‘limit our generation of garbage’, I must clarify that until now, I have been extremely satisfied with the garbage collection service. I have lived in two different areas of the island (native Caymanian) and in both areas, garbage collecton has been consistently frequent and adequate.

    However, this does not change the fact that for all these years the DoEH has not actively pushed our Governments to formulate and implement policies on recycling and have therefore actively facilitated the  continued growth of Mt. Trashmore. Evidently, they are also absolutely culpable in the current collection woes.

    I like to be objective; give credit when and where it is due but likewise, cast blame accordingly.   

  5. ... says:

    We really need a recycling program in Cayman.  Tires can be recycled to be used as rubber landscaping mulch. .

  6. Anonymous says:

    This situation has existed for a long time. My husband and I have been calling and questioning the haphazzard manner in which garbage is being collected for years.  This is nothing new but now that it has finally garnered more public notice perhaps something real and tangible will be done to get this important service functioning properly.

  7. Anonymous says:

    the worst thing is the gov said they are abolishing garbage collection fees because it doesn’t cover the cost of the service???????

    well then do what other advanced nations are doing – charge people per weight, so the polluter pays….

    what incentive is their for minimising waste if there are no fees????


  8. John Galt says:

    The free market is the only answer to this problem.



  9. Peter Milburn says:

    Just one other point I would like to make on this subject(and most if not all have been spot on)All the cleaning along the roadsides wonderfull but all the treelimbs and branches that are cut down are taken to (YOU GUESSED IT)Mount Trashmore.Talk about space wasting with all that usable stuff.CUC has a machine that they use to chip up the branches etc and all that can be used around all the condos,hotels and private homes fortheir plants.Is their one at the present dump?That would save so much space if it were indeed the case or maybe there is one but its broken down and no one knows how to fix it.So many ways and means to help with our trash.WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!Mac are you hearing us???

  10. Anonymous says:

    "The DoEH is asking people to cut down on the trash they produce". Now I’ve heard it all!! How absurd!! They mismanage their staffing resources (if their staff shortage explanation is true), they mismanage the maintenance of their vehicles (if their vehicle malfunction explanation is true), they are the main advisers to Government (successive) on holistic waste management policies & measures – including RECYCLING!!! – and they seem to have failed miserably in that role and now they want the public to cut down on the amount of trash generated. That ultimately means we must consume less, because without available alternatives, there is nothing to do with trash but to dump it. So, the DoEH have now become the main authority on lifestyle changes because they can’t get their act together!!?? OK, so say we consume less (not necessarily hard to do in these leaner times), but that means less income for the supermarkets, department stores, hardware stores, restaurants, etc. which means less income for the Government through Customs duties – not to mention the direct beneficiaries of such establishments, the owners and staff and the trickle-down therefrom. So, hotels must cut down on their refuse also, – no problem, tell their guests to curb their consumption while on vacation – and so on and so on. Now the DoEH has become the main authority on the entire island’s fiscal management practices – supply-demand-consumption!  But put all that aside for a while (maybe I’m being a bit like Chicken Little), how realistic does the DoEH think a request like that is at this time of year – oh sorry, I know, we’ll just postpone Christmas and all its trash-generating trappings!! No, nevermind that, we’ll just give gifts of museum memberships, home-made items (coconut candies – hold the plastic bag), music lessons, cooking classes. Honestly, really thoughtful and of far greater personal and social value than toys, etc.etc. But wait, when I redeem the gift certificates for my music lessons and cooking classes or a nice restaurant meal, what is the establishment supposed to do with those pieces of paper, eat them??? Now, the DoEH is the main authority on changes in social habits. What vast expertise!!!  

    I think I’ve made my point on that.

    A few years ago my family sorted all the trash in our household – washed every soup, dog food, tuna fish, etc. tin – dumped them all in one bag; every plastic bottle – dumped them in a separate bag; every cardboard package, newspaper, pizza box, etc. – separate bag; every aluminum soda can – separate bag; glass bottles – separate bag. We dumped only organic waste in the trash. About 1 week later I turned up at the dump with over a dozen bags of washed and sorted RECYCLABLE stuff and the attendant at Trashmore told me "dump it all in that dumpster over there". When I protested and explained that it was all cleaned and sorted, he apologized profusely for the deficiencies and shortsightedness of management and told me "sorry, we have no facilities for recycling – just dump it all in that dumpster". Needless to say, but it was futile for us to try that again. 

    So, DoEH please don’t expect me to alter my lifestyle and limit my generation of trash until you give me some genuine alternatives of how to dispose of what I generate. Selfish?  No, I would LOVE to be able to do my share to contribute to all the benefits of greener waste management solutions, as I have demonstrated by past action, but you have no right to tell me to change my lifestyle simply because you have a literal mess on your hands caused by your own failures. 






  11. Eco-warrior says:

    10 ways we all can help …

    Yes, we absolutely do need proper recycling schemes, and various other things that need government action, such as differential duty rates to help change behaviour. 

    But while we wait, here are 10 steps EVERYONE can take to reduce waste, or at least the non-biodegradable waste that is the worst of the problem.  If we do these things we will help with the immediate landfill issue and more generally reduce our impact on the environment of this island and this planet (of both of which I happen to be rather fond).

    1.  Never, ever, drink bottled water.  If you want to know why, Google ‘water-disaster.pps’.  You’ll find out just how irresponsible, wasteful and (contrary the the image put out by its producers) bad for your health it is to drink the stuff.  The same applies to buying those large containers from the supermarket.  There’s nothing wrong with tap water, or using water coolers with reusable 5 gallon bottles.

    2.  Take reusable shopping bags to the supermarket.  This would be encouraged if all the supermarkets started charging say 5c a bag.  When the supermarkets in Jersey, another small island with a waste problem, did just that a couple of years ago, consumption (and therefore disposal) of plastic bags declined by some 90 million bags a year!  In a short time it has become almost socially unacceptable to use disposable carrier bags – we need that change of attitude here.  For a start perhaps checkout assistants could be encouraged to ask the customer whether he or she needs a bag, rather than assuming they would actually like as many as possible, each only quarter full, or looking at the customer who declines a bag for just a couple of items as if he is from Jupiter.

    3.  Drink Caybrew beer rather than other brands.  You can take the empties back to the brewery to be re-used, instead of sending them to landfill – and they’ll give you money for them, too.  Plus you cut down on transport emissions and support local business.  Tastes just as good too.

    4.  Never use disposable plates, cups etc.  If you absolutely have to, use paper ones – at least they are made from renewable sources and are biodegradable.  We should actually try to avoid ‘disposable’ anything.  ‘Disposable’ should be a dirty word.

    5.  Seek out minimally packaged products, or those in paper/card packaging rather than plastic.  For example, buy milk in Tetra-Pak cartons rather than plastic (Kirk’s sell Crowley’s milk packed this way)

    6. Buy eggs in paperboard eggboxes rather than plastic or polystyrene foam

    7. Use washing powder (which comes in biodegradable cardboard boxes) rather than liquid detergent, which comes in great big plastic bottles that, here at least, cannot be recycled.

    8. Avoid multi-packs (extra layers of packaging), and instead buy fewer, larger packages (less packaging per unit volume of product)

    9. Buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than pre-packed, especially if the pre-packed are in rigid plastic boxes or styrofoam trays. 

    10.  Lobby your MLA, supermarket manager, your boss at work, and anyone else in a position to improve how we act as consumers and citizens so as to reduce the amount of waste we produce and better deal with what we do.


    These are just ten easy ideas to start with – others will have many more.  Let’s start a campaign for a cleaner, less wasteful Cayman.

  12. Peter Milburn says:

    I arrived here on Jan 6th 1965 and one of the first things I heard about was recycling.Funny here it is some 45 years later and I still here the word RECYCLING.Wake up people and start to take pride in your country!!!!!!Its not hard to do(with help from DEH)but just think hownice Cayman would look all the time(not just when a few are paid by Govt to clean up the roads).Good job by the way (the workers involved) but go by those areas a couple of days later and what do we see.MORE GARBAGE!!!!Wake up people!!!There are those among us who could care less about where they throw their beer bottles and cans becouse they know that someone will come along and clean it up for them.Lets get rid of ALL plastic bags in the Supermarkets and everywhere else that hands them out to people who then just dump them along the road somewhere.You should see the plastic bags that are dumped in the ocean,some by people and others by the wind that just picks them up and drops them wherever.Much of them same from our new building sites.Packaging cardboard you name it.We find it out there and it is harming our fragile Marine life from Turtles to Coral.

             But why am I even worrying about these things because no-one listens anyway and life will continue along its merry way until we wake up one morning and its all gone.Think tourism is bad now?Wait til then.WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Mac you listening???

  13. Anonymous says:

    start recycling and limit each household to one garbage can a week plus the recycling, it works in other places why not cayman?

  14. concerned resident says:

    Being brought up in a society with a minimum of 4 different types of trash cans in front of every house (paper/bio/glass/plastic) as well as a collection station for batteries every couple of miles I was very surprised when moving to a country with none of the above. Even worse, restaurants do not collect glass and water is sold in non-reusable plastic bottles. Understood this is a small community and a significant cost would be involved for the innovations, but it will pay in the long run.

    The easiest and maybe first step would be to eliminate plastic bags in the supermarket. I am used to either having to pay for a bag if you need one at the cashier’s or bring your own. CostULess is setting an example!

    In another european country waste management fees are handled through the garbage bags. Those have to be bought (= waste management fee) and only trash inside these specific bags will be collected.

    Asking the people to ‘reduce trash’ is probably the wrong approach… how about the companies importing these things? The end consumer can do its part, but I feel this needs to be started on another level first. And I am pretty sure most if not all residence of this precious island are happy to chip in and do what they can to reduce waste.

  15. Mars Mum says:

    Did i miss the memo that Cayman has implemented a recycling strategy?? DOE r u serious?!!!HAHA! What a joke! I would happily separate my cans, from my pastics, from my bottles…but what is the point…it all ends up in the same place @ the Mount!!!  Call me when the Gates of Hell open up under there!  lol How ridiculous!

  16. ruttering says:

    Yesterday at Kirk’s (I don’t usually go there, I’m a Foster’s man), my shopping consisted of:

    1 loaf, 1 pint of milk, 1 lb of stewing beef,  1 packet of parsnips, I packet of carrots, 1 turnip (guess what we had for dinner),  some ant spray, a pack of 4 AA batteries and a Snickers bar.

    That was packed for me in FOUR plastic carrier bags. The loaf and the chocolate bar got a bag each to themselves! Unbelievable. 

    That’s another reason we have a garbage problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get a reusable shopping bag.  All the stores have them.  Keep it in the back of the car.  No need for any more plastic bags.  You cannot blame the shop, only yourself

      • Anonymous says:

         Agreed… sir/ma’am, were you not watching them put your items in their respective bags? Even if you weren’t, once you realised that your grand total of items certainly didn’t require so many bags, could you not have given them back? Please know that I am not attacking you, merely inquiring. 

        Anyhoo.. now that you have them, try using them as a trash bag in the little cans, e.g. small bathroom trash cans – brain fart.. can’t remember the # of gallons… hopefully you know what I mean. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, and he’s probably an expat too so why not suggest that he gets the next flight out of here if he doesn’t like our systems in supermarkets. No Caymanian would ever accept goods packed in plastic bags.

      • Anonymous says:

        100% agreed about bringing reusable bags, but I think the shops are to blame too.  They need so stop providing plastic bags altogether (like Cost-U-Less or Priced Right).  That will force consumers to bring their own bags.

    • Anonymous says:

      PS at weekends, the "packers" are usually school children.  In most of Europe the kids are the true environmentalists, not here  – which is wrong, after all, it’s their future.  What about giving the packing kids (who, frankly must be the most motivated kids on the island, for doing the job in the first place) 20% on the price of each bag they sell?   I always ask what the "courtesy clerk" packing the shopping is going to do with my "tip" and I always get a useful answer.   if they got commisson on "green bags" damn sure most shoppers would get them



  17. Anonymous says:

    Roydell… one word for you. Recycling.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The garbage collection on Grand Cayman Island has been for years the best run governmental service in the country hands down.

    Now all of a sudden it has had problems and I still don’t understand it? Were people rolled over?

    Is something going on behind the scenes we should know about?

    Are they planning to take garbage collection private because no one pays for their collection?

    Inquiring minds would like to know.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the new employees of DEH should come from the current members of the Cayman clean up committee, as those Caymanian people will need a sustainable job for the New Year.  Don’t go now and take out more work permits for low cost foreign workers to work at DEH.  Take that additional 1mio dlrs out of the hands of the George Town Politician and let DEH handle the Salaries for these people, so that we can have a proper accounting system in place for the usage of those funds.

  20. "Unsolved Mysteries" says:

    Where is Mr. Walling Whittaker when you need him?.  When this gentleman was Chief for this Department, none of this nonsense was going on.  He knew his workers, and would stand proxy for each one.

    I feel the present Director and the powers that be, need to re-think what their doing at such a critical time, with laying off of staff and reliable workers.  It may be true that our work force requires  "Caymanians" but how many are going to remain dedicated to this type of work.  Thesemen are up from 3am to get out on the roadways before 4am to collect our refuse.  A little more appreciation needs to be given to these dedicated workers, who do their best in keeping our Islands CLEAN


  21. Anonymous says:

    Why not get Ellio’s Island Clean up crews to pick up the garbage as well??…kills two birds with one stone.

    Volume of garbage is not really related to what each homeowners want to is a direct result of packaging of products mainly. As we purchase our goods from the US our volumes per person will be very similar.

  22. CE says:

    I agree, if the government, of today or yesterday, implemented a recycling program this problem would not exist. A large percentage of the community is for a recycling program but as always, environmentally-concerned initiatives are repeatedly ignored by Cayman’s administration. We need to become more rigourous in our fight for this program and put pressure on gov’t officials until they listen. Otherwise, our pollution problem will grow exponentially and we’ll continue to search for reactive solutions instead of proactive ones. But isn’t that like most governments everywhere? Still doesn’t make it right though!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I wonder… what are we going to do to cut down on garbage? Any suggestions guys?

  24. Anonymous says:

    So stupid! Recycling is everywhere, in Europe, US and all normal countries, but Cayman and Latin America. And Cayman has one of the highest income per person in the world! How can people just live for this day and not think about the future effects of all this garbage!??

  25. Anonymous says:

    when elected, mckeeva said he would annouce a stratagey for mt trashmore within 90 days……….

  26. Ah Ha! says:

    So essentially then, mismanagement, failing immigration policies, egos and politics are to blame for something that will in the long run cost a few million more for next years island wide clean up necessitated by the increase in illegal dumping caused by the failure to collect garbage regularly. Not to mention the fly control and increased mosquito and rodent control which will be be required as a direct result.

    I would once have blamed those who didn’t pay their collection fees but suddenly realised that the incompetents who can’t figure out how to collect them are actually more to blame. Why pay if you don’t have to I guess.

    Everybody give a holla and a few extra dolla to the garbage men this holiday season if you can, they are a much more valuable resource than most could imagine.



    • Anonymous says:

      I personally know of a case where garbage fees had not been paid for 10 years at a home in cayman brac….so, as you stated, why pay if you don’t have to?  No one is obviously following up on these outstanding fees…this is why Government is broke today. There is no enforcement of laws and no enforcement to collect fees…why is garbage still being collected after 10 years and no payment?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Waste management appears to be a problem that no government here is prepared to tackle.  Trashmore is an abomination, but it could be managed effective and safely if a power – generating incineration plant of some sort was to be installed.  The capital cost of this would be high, but as the plant could generate income (from sales of power and possibly clean water) a PFI would or might be attractive to investors. Carefully chosen and managed, such a plant could not only tackle incoming waste, but the pile of toxic carp (spelling mistake deliberate) which is such an eyesore, smell factory and health hazard that we have now.

    As long as it does not cost anything to dispose of rubbish, and as long as there is no prohibition on plastics and polystyrene (or a "fee" for the use of those products), there is no incentive for your average Joe or Josephine to care.  The lack of a recycling scheme is pitiable and it is not true that the waste cannot be used; "green waste" can be composted and used for cultivation, glass can be used for insulation, and in conjunction with tyres, for road surfacing, metal can be sold etc.  There simply does not seem to be any will to undertake any of these issues, which along with a failure to institute a proper public transport system, would have a dramatic impact on the quality of life on the island, for residents and tourists.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Can we burn our boxes and other paper trash in our yards? I think not but if we could it would cut back on the amount DEH has to throw in their trucks.

  29. Anonymous says:

    As it has been said for a long time, government needs to step in and begin to enforce rules in relation to the prodcution of waste and rubbish. Ban plastic bags from stores, don’t allow restaurants to use throw-away plastic cups, plates etc (they can use washable plastic if glass is an issue), implement recycling programmes for glass, paper, cans etc. Lower the duty on items that are environmentaly friendly, up the duty on items that are not environmentaly friendly. Yes, it would be nice if people would do this on their own, but unfortunately, most people are not likely to do it until they are being forced to or it impacts their walett.


  30. Anonymous says:

    When I arrived in Cayman this year I was suprised to find no recycling.  It is difficult to understand why this is the case, people around the world are buying into recycling and the need to protect what we have.

    The only concern I have is that the recycling process needs to have a clear benefit for example what will happen to glass if its recycled seperately? There is a saying in the UK where there is muck there is brass. I am sure the government or an enterprising individual could make money from recycling and in the process help keep these islands clean and tidy.

    • anonymous says:

      Recycling is not a new concept.  You can reduce, reuse, and recycle by choice if you want, but as yet, nobody is going to pay for it, collect it, or make it easy here.

      There are a variety of glass crushers on island.  Contact Chris Weaver at Island Supply for more info on locations.  There are DEH can recycling containers at island-wide Fosters locations.  You can call DEH if you have an office canister that is getting full.  They store the cans until there is sufficient quanity to send to mainland for processing.

      Not sure if there is any paper recycling yet (someone can correct me if this is inaccurate).  Cayman humane Society can use all used papers for cage liners and the National Gallery will take used Magazines.

      Used cooking oil is being recycled into biodiesel on a small scale locally.  Contact Larry Bang of Cayman Biofuels.

      Organic waste (which often forms as much as 30% of household waste in industrialised countries) cannot be effectively composted in this climate.  I have been told that nonbacterial composters like red worms cannot survive the heat of Cayman, and the piles attract rats, scorpions, centipedes, and other undesirable vermin (again open to correction).  The DEH currently mulches the waste along with old wooden shipping pallets, leaves and grass and uses this to cover the garbage on top of the mountain.  If someone has a better use for the mulch contact the DEH.

    • Anonymous says:

      I understand you can use ground glass to make roads – is this right?

      • Common Sense 101 says:

        Yep…just look carefully at the new roads in the US and you will notice crushed glass glittering. .