Recycling Mount Trashmore and more

| 29/04/2013

When will it dawn on the human race that the planet Earth has an ultimate recycling mechanism which will, in due course, remove all traces of the existence of humanity? I refer, of course, to the subduction zones of the tectonic plates that slide one piece of rock beneath another, and melt everything — metals, plastics, rock, even discarded flip-flops and plastic water bottles — in the magma beneath.

It cannot be beneath the wit of man in these days of precision guided weapons to place whatever needs to be disposed of at exactly the right place such that it will be digested in the earth’s maw. The precision is important: the speed of the Cascadia subduction zone, for example, off the pacific coast of North America, is currently estimated at 40mm per year, (Wikipedia) or about 15 inches in ten years, so any waste must be placed in close proximity.  But, the subduction zone is about 800 miles long.  So, if items were in, say, one foot thick bricks, one foot wide, over four million cubic feet of material could be removed from the planet surface in ten years at this site alone. 

Subduction has been continuing at this particular site for an estimated 200 million years, so it is reasonable to assume that it will continue for the foreseeable future. There are many others (conveniently spaced?) around the globe. Who knows? Garbage may even lubricate the junction between the plates, and reduce the risk of earthquakes.

About now, the environmentalists and the politically correct will be going ballistic, as all subduction zones are under water. A lot of water: about eight to ten thousand feet. I am not suggesting that waste should simply be dumped at sea (enough countries do that already, hence the flip-flops and water bottles on the beach) or that this is a substitute for careful management of waste, and conservation of the limited resources available, or that it would be an easy solution. But it is not something that I have found considered elsewhere and is, at least theoretically, possible. I know of no other permanent earth-based solution. It has to be worth serious consideration and research – unless you have another answer? I appreciate that it could not be started next week, or probably next year, but I doubt that any meaningful effort will be made to deal with Mount Trashmore in that time-scale either.

It does also, however, presuppose that waste is actually managed at a waste management facility by someone who knows what they are doing.  Everything arriving needs to be sorted, or even sorted before collection. Sorry about that: it’s not difficult though. Most civilized countries do it.  Are useful car parts stripped out and sold from the written off wrecks? Thought not.  Sell the bodywork and engine metal for recycling, and remove the major metal from the dump. Tyres? They can be ground up and used in the asphalt mix for road resurfacing. Or perhaps you would like to re-introduce a fashion for Whompers? Paper and wood products can be bundled together and recycled, or at least used as an energy source.

Hard core (a.k.a fill) commands a high price in Cayman, so should not be used in the dump to cover other waste. And then there are the plastics and medical waste. Medical waste probably has to be incinerated. Organic material will not leave any residue, but will generate CO2 (and water). Other residue would have to be lumped in with the plastics and encapsulated (I believe the Mafia used concrete) and then could be deposited in a subduction zone. So: no need for a new dump. Nothing more than a temporary stop at a waste processing plant somewhere. In the meantime, a start could be made on processing Mount Trashmore. After all, that’s what the present owners and all the rest of Cayman want, and none of it would need to end up in Bodden Town.

Provided no items are allowed to float to the surface, it would seem to be an infallible, if slow, permanent solution.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Or, here's another alternative. Cayman could lease some Hercules aircraft from the U.S. military and fill them up with all the garbage. Then fly over an active volcano (there's got to be one somewhere) and dump everything into the magma. I'm sure it would clean up just as nicely as the subduction zone mentioned, but it would be a lot faster.

    Or, Cayman could load all the garbage into empty cargo containers and attach them to rocket ships. Then fly them into outer space.

    Yep, there's lots of ways to handle this stuff if you got a little imagination and little common sense. Or if you don't take into account how much it might cost.

  2. Anonymous says:

    "remove all traces of the existence of humanity"? You're barking up the wrong tree here, mate. This is a Christian community whether you're prepared to acknowledge it or not. Here's a tip : what you think doesn't actually matter. When you accept that reality you can start living in the real world.

  3. Anonymous says:

     You have a dream.  Good for you.  Mountain of trash is still waiting for a REAL solution.

    • Anonymous says:

      A real solution—well, Nasa can fly it out on their next rocket and toe it to the nearest black hole, OK? Or we could recycle it properly and use it as an energy source too like they do in real countries.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cascadia? I hear Dart has already bought it

  5. Anonymous says:

    hey doc, whats the word from planet crackpot?

    • Doc says:

      Isn't it good to know that there are still people out there capable of producing logically reasoned scientific argument to counter a theory, at the same time suggesting a useful alternative?

      • Anonymous says:

        Seriously Doc?  How are you going to get it down there?  Fly it in then sink it?  What if it floats back?  Are you going to put concrete blocks on it to make sure is stays down?  What happens in the years that it takes each block to get subducted?  Are you going to wrap it in plastic too so it doesn't pollute the world's oceans?    According to the EPA the US alone produces 1,350,000,000lbs of trash a day.  Your scheme would (if it wasn't completely insane) remove 400,000 sq ft a year – I suspect we may, in fact, need to fly it to neighbouring planets to find enough subduction space.  Of course, we could just roll it up with whatever you're smoking and we could probably get through most of the problem by next Wednesday.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The wreckage from Hurricane Ivan created Mount Trashmore.  Entire condo complexes, thousands of roofs, tens of thousands of cars went to the dump and were added to the pile as if regular household waste.  Years before Ivan, much of the garbage was piled onto barges that would go offshore to bulldoze the waste off into the depths of the trench.  It's all still there, and probably remarkably preserved, awaiting its multi-millenia appointment in the mighty cauldron as you suggest.  Unfortunately in the meantime, it is not contained in any way, and very slowly and silently leaches into the depths.  This is garbage processing 3rd world style the world over and it's not sustainable thinking.  

    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree, most of the huricane waste, particularly the cars, did NOT go into the GT dump.

  7. Anonymous says:

    "You the man dude", magnifico, Brilliant ,Why didn't I think of that ?, Well you know what I mean . God man , You are correct. Finally a scientifc approach. Good one. Thumbs up. I am so thrilled Doc You've hit this nail on the head. No seriously why not ? Why not put it  where it came from.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think a good recyclingplant would create jobs for Caymanians, and Dart could help out with that if he wanted a piece of the pie.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is recycling in cayman they are in the phone book 769-9995 or on line at or in real life on dump road as a matter of fact there are 3 recycling facilities off dump road & mr dart is recycling allready he will process all the glass you want but you have to bring it to caymana bay he wont come to your house and if you drink caybrew they recycle their bottles most bars will accept them from you  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Right, put that Cayman trench to work!

  10. Anonymous says:

    this is the most mental thing I have ever read. Briliant!