Mount Trashmore – a mountain of resource?

| 21/03/2013

In the many years that islanders have sought to resolve the environmental debacle that looms over the capital, various schemes have been proposed for dealing with Mount Trashmore; from shipping scrap metal to China, constructing a dry ski slope and setting up a new waste site at Bodden Town. The WISE website outlines a plethora of sustainable alternatives, which, if applied, amount to a comprehensive and sustainable waste management solution for the future whilst also proposing options for returning the George Town site to its natural, pre-rubbish dump state through landfill mining.

During the time that this debate has been raging there has been a complete revolution in conventional wisdom about waste management. Waste is becoming increasingly viewed as a revenue-generating resource rather than as something to be thrown away. New technologies are driving the change in perception as they have created the means to transform waste into a resource thereby creating the means for sustainable waste management and safe, clean landfill removal.

Landfill sites can now be mined for their valuable recyclates because rubbish dumps and historic waste streams contain concentrations of valuable materials such as metals that will be processed and recycled. That which cannot be recycled can be converted into renewable power and heat using advanced conversion technologies. These new technologies ensure that the maximum value is extracted from this residual material enabling the return of landfill sites to their natural state for development of community use.  Indeed, Advanced Plasma Power (APP) is pioneering such a landfill mining project in Belgium and such an approach could be applied to Trashmore. 

Taking this view of waste is a complete paradigm shift. Rather than treating waste as a problem to be disposed of, and relying on rapidly-depleting sources of fossil fuels to meet our mounting energy needs, advanced conversion technologies can convert municipal, commercial and industrial waste into clean, sustainable energy.  Advanced gasification plants are very compact and are designed to sit unobtrusively on the edge of towns taking the waste that the town generates and providing vital, proximate and cost effective resources in return. Visual and environmental impact are kept to a minimum.

APP’s Gasplasma process is a game changer for managing waste in the built environment as it produces no waste outputs and has low emissions. APP’s plasma conversion delivers such a clean, high quality syngas that it can be used directly in efficient gas engines and gas turbines to generate power. The process generates no waste outputs as any ash is vitrified into an environmentallystable and saleable construction product – Plasmarok®.  

Furthermore, the output from the plants need not be limited to power; APP is also pioneering the way in developing next generation waste to fuel plants. The clean gas produced by the process can also be used to substitute natural gas or other fuel gas.

Aligning waste policy with renewable energy policy will allow a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to current practices.  In the case of the Cayman Islands the benefits are even more profound. The ever-growing toxic mound leeches into the water and the surrounding environs, threatening the environment, tourism and possibly even human health. The solution really needn’t be that complicated.

Rolf Stein is Chief Executive of Advanced Plasma Power

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t we just send it all out of the way as the Bodden Town plan proposes?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Was I the only one thinking about the episode of the Simpsons when Springfield was sold a monorail?

    Presumably if it is such a gold mine, these companies will offer to pay us to deal with the stuff and the directors will offer up some sizeable personal guarantees too?

  3. Annon says:

    And why do you think that Dart is interested in this pile of garbage? Now he is penetrating the energy production market….i wonder how long it will take before anyone will be able to see that 2+2=7 (for Dart)….

  4. Anonymou says:

    You missed the most important factor, how much to set up and annual operation cost?

    Cayman Islands Government is broke.

    • Anonymous says:

      I find it is interesting that everyone seems to focus on the discussion in regards how to deal with trash and there is no consideration how to minimize or avoid it altogether in the first instance. So whilst the debate over what to do with the dump continues to go around in circles, more and more trash is piled up.

      Why are restaurants not required to dispose of their glass bottles at the glass crusher site set up by Dart?

      Why are restaurants still allowed to use single-use drink cups and plates rather than washable and reusable plastic cups?

      Why are supermarkets not setting up water-refill stations (a coin machine so to speak) so that the plastic jugs can be refilled over and over again rather then new once bought every single time?

      Why are supermarkets not selling eggs in a manner where one has to bring their egg cartons rather than buying eggs already packaged?

      Parents – send your kids to school with containers that can be used over and over again (avoid zip log bags, single serve juice boxes, chips bags etc).

      When you shop in the US, take your items out of the plastic and boxes and leave the garbage behind – don't bring it to the Island.

      Everyone can do something – it is just a matter of wanting it and getting used to some different ways, so at least whilst everyone continues to debate what to do with the dump, we all work on minimizing garbage so the issue can be tackled from both ends.

    • Anonymous says:

      If Mckeeva had not been premier, we might have had some money over.

  5. Last of the Sea Urchin says:

    That is even more reason why the dump should stay where it is. Why have two contaminated sites? Recycle at the existing sit and convert the WTE.

  6. fred sanford says:

    Just so you know recycling services is located at the beginning of dump road. They pay for trash and export it to the U.S. the phone # is 769-9995 or visit them at


  7. Anonymous says:

    Once again the options are limited by a government that is broke and is not talking about taxes to  replace money spend with reckless abandon.

    I hope to God those politicians who were responsible for our financial crisis have learned their lesson.

    If not they will spend the property tax money in a heart beat.

    • Anonymous says:

      They can talk about taxes, and introduce them, but introduce them for everyone – including Caymanians! 

      • Anonymous says:

        No worries mate!  When they introduce taxes to help pay for their ownfoolishness ONLY Caymanians will be left  to pay their own bills!

      • Anonymous says:

        Property tax has nothing to do with the "Expat Tax".

    • Anonymass says:

      Yeah, because taxes work so well everywhere else. Its not like there isn't a legal worldwide business in helping peopel to avoidpayng their taxes?

  8. Anonymous says:

    So Rolf, what is your business plan for Georgetown dump? Where will you make your money? Lets assume for just a moment that someone with your vision in goverment said you could have that pile for free. What would you do? 

  9. Anonymous says:

    The use of these newer technologies certainly need to be reviewed and serviously considered before any decision to create more garbage piles are approved. Regardless if they are lined.

    As a lay-person I have to say that, having done a bit of investigation, these solutions look really good and appear to be able to be scalable. Having a solution that can deal with new & OLD waste has to yielda better overall result. Then as our garbage production grows and the old waste decreases, the country cancontinue to cope. Combined with mechanical sorting to extract recyclable materials we could have a great system for the future growth of our little country.

    Thanks Mr. Stein for your comments. Maybe you could take a vacation with us in a couple of months and conduct a public information session.

  10. Anonymous says:

    12:45 So true. In fact it might actually be safer (although I am definitely not advocating it) to use nuclear power than set up WTE using whatever has been dumped in that tip. Consider the fact that pretty much everything thrown away on this island has been dumped in there for more than two decades and none of it has ever been documented. As far as can I remember the only things that have ever been processed separately are clinical waste, whatever Matrix sorted out back in 2007/8 and the regular RCIPS drug burns. What Mr Stein conveniently leaves out of his proposal are the considerable health and safety issues that need to addressed, even the UK is struggling here and they are years ahead of the Cayman Islands in this field.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is a good video of Rolf Stein explaining this . Not sure why anyone would mark this as a troll..

      • noname says:

        It is because when humans can not understand something it is magic.  There is good magic and then there is expat magic.  Only a decent education can take away the mystery.  That is why we are the trolls here.

  11. Anonymous says:

    And if it goes wrong Grand Cayman ends up as a polluted wasteland. Paul Davies, an environmental law partner at City law firm Macfarlanes talking about proposals to employ APP in the UK was quoted in the press as saying: "The greatest challenge aside from dealing with the cost-benefit of materials recovery is overcoming health and safety risks posed by boring down into sites where, in many cases, for older "mature" sites, there are inexact records of what lies below." The big problem with Mount Trashmore is that no records exist but we do know it contains a lot of very nasty stuff including asbestos and arsenic, the latter being used in building materials as a pesticide. This is like every other WTE proposal and it has the same limitations – you cannot just dump the contents of the tip in a burner and produce clean energy, it has to be carefully sorted out first.

    • Anonymous says:

      So using heavy equipment to load Trashmore into a truck to haul it to the proposed BT open pits wouldn't disturb those materials?   SMH.    Sure, let's scatter the friable asbestos ALL around the island.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Idiot. There is no proposal to move the existing material to BT. Rather to creat a new and proper facility where waste can be managed including recycling.
        The existing landfill is already unbareable at times, imagine if it was Doug up. As the old saying goes – the more you stir sh** the stinker it gets. It would completely ruin tourism on west bay beach, and become hell for GT residence.

        • Anonymous says:

          There isn't?    Funny, I don't remember reading that Dart plans on capping Trashmore and creating the new highest elevation on Grand Cayman.   You DO realise that 'capping' doesn't mean pouring concrete over a giant pile of garbage, right??     Maybe you thought they were just going to scatter it all about and then cap it.  


          Maybe you didn't think about it at all.    Just as long as you don't have to look at it, it doesn't really matter how it's done.    I say this in the kindest way possible — consider that it might benefit a person to do a modicum of research into a subject prior to calling another an "idiot".   

        • Anonymous says:

          Who is Doug ?

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly and that is why it shouldn't be moved. This is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. It should all have been addressed two decades ago and quick fixes like some of those being proposed now aren't going to do the job.

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember 'challenge' doesn't mean it can't technically be done. The economics are a challenge, as your Mr. Davies says. (actually bigger than what's in the dump.) Doesn't mean APP can't be done safely or even well. Just that no one wants to pay for it. Sound familiar?

  12. NeoSurvivor says:

    Excellent and appropriate viewpoint, Mr. Stein.   Many of us also agree that mitigating Trashmore in-situ is the only sustainable solution to the problem, and combined with the resource information you've provided, it could even pay for itself and more………. IF…….   The Cayman Islands could somehow budget the start-up and maintenance costs of such a system.  


    I feel that this country has been pushed into other temporary-at-best alternatives due to the country being broke.    There was once a bidding process for in-situ mitigation and a business selected and vetted;  alas that process was halted for reasons unknown to me. 


    Obviously, I can't speak for the CIG, however I think that if a company or corporation could propose a system or structure that could cause this to happen in a manner that was equitable with the country's finances, that it would be at least considered by those with the authority to make it happen.    I recognise that there are numerous variables that affect the viability of such options, and I hope we have the maturity as a nation to point our collective consideration in such a direction.    I think it's the only reasonable option and that trucking Trashmore to another less-visible site is a worse option than leaving it in place.  


    Thanks for taking the time to write this. 

  13. Anonymous says:

    The only solution cayman can afford is the dart proposal…… why is cayman looking a gift horse in the mouth?

    i fully support waste to energy and recycling at the new bodden town facility…

    • Anonymous says:

      If you want to be treated as having a voice when you are here, please extend us the courtesy of using capitals when referring to the name of our islands, and their original capital. Frankly, Mr. Dart also is entitled to such respect.

      Thank you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Patehetic – grow up.  What does a capital letter add.  It was a comment by someone on a website for F sake.

    • Truth says:

      Ask the "honorable for life" Mr. Bush what the word 'solution' means.  Then you will begine to understand why Cayman doesn't have one.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure that there can ever be a "complete paradigm shift" since it would imply that there could be a "partial paradigm shift".  The word "complete" is redundant.  I did not read the rest because it was basically advertising for his company.

    • Anon says:

      While we figure out what to do with the trash (an ongoing debate for years), why don’t we pass a recycling law tomorrow requiring everyone to separate plastic, glass and metal from foodstuff and other garbage. We can split trash more in 4 areas and pile up metal, plastic, glass and foodstuff separately. This way we can start sorting now. We can then look at companies that want our plastic, metal and glass for enough money to cover the cost of collecting and piling these materials up.

      Maybe some artist may want to melt some glass and metal make something out of it locally. Maybe cay brew would be interested in some of the glass.

      If garbage is not separated businesses and households will be subject to 100 dollar fine. Simple. Now let’s get going. At least we’re getting a head start. Imagine if we did this when the discussions of “what to do with the trash” started?

      So frustrating.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why should we waste our time sorting out our trash?  We don't have to dance to the world's PC agendas. 

        • Anonymous says:

          It's not about political correctness, it's about an intelligent and sustainable manner of dealing with our own waste.     Do you ever wonder what percentage of Trashmore is comprised of recyclable materials?   I do, and would guess that it is a significant amount.    Why continue to add to it in the absence of a consensus-based solution?    


          Make it law to recycle, otherwise people such as yourself will never get with the program and do their OWN SHARE to deal with the waste they create.  

          • Anonymous says:

            Sustainability is not my problem, it is the problem of someone in the future when the economic imperative mixed with technological advances will mean that it will be much easier and more effective deal with such issues.  There is no sensible economic case for me caring one jot right now.  So forgive me, but I will have one big trash bag and everything is going in it.  You can do what you want.

            • Anonymous says:

              Sure, the present concerns are not your problem.    You probably don't have to see it, you perhaps don't have to worry about a problem that has been present for decades.  Why should you concern yourself, when jamming everything in your super-stretchy plastic bag solves your short-sighted unconcerned problems?   

              You probably don't change the oil in your car and don't care a whit for pulling up the weeds that grow around your house.   You simply can't be concerned with problems that extend further than two days from your awareness.   

              Sorry to bother you.   I'd hoped I was discussing a problem that concerns us all with someone who gives a damn about the country.    No worries, mate.   

    • Anonymous says:

      This Viewpoint is nothing more than an advertorial fromAPP – a small UK company that  so far seems to be delivered precisely nothing and is a very junior partner in the ealry stage Belgian project that the poster seems to claim as their own.

      Also do your reading on the background of its chairman and his previous roles including Jarvis PLC where he resigned  just after they were found jointly responsible for the Potters Bas diaster in the UK which killed 7.

      Having done all that who wants to take the viewpoint with a pinch of salt?