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Beacon Farms partners with IWC and Foster’s to recycle compostable waste

Environment 11 Mar, 2024 Follow News

Jason Brown Sandy Urquhart and Woody Foster

Beacon Farms compost facility

Beacon Farms IWC Fosters food waste recycling

Beacon Farms is partnering with Island Waste Carriers (IWC) and Foster’s supermarkets to recycle green and brown waste into compost.

A pilot programme began in August last year when the three organisations teamed up to take non-protein food waste, cardboard packaging and pallets from Foster’s Airport to Beacon Farms’ composting facility. From one supermarket alone, Beacon Farms has received more than 30,000 lbs of green waste that is unfit for human consumption and would otherwise have gone to the landfill.

Following the success of the pilot, IWC has invested in a new truck so the programme can be rolled out to all Foster’s supermarkets and other large-scale waste producers.

“The programme is a win-win for all involved,” said Sandy Urquhart, chief operating officer at Beacon Farms. “It’s an environmentally friendly waste management process which results in wonderful, nutrient-rich compost we can use to fertilise crops and improve the quality of soil. Our aim is to scale up compost production at Beacon Farms so we can sell high-grade local compost to other farmers as well.”

Beacon Farms can produce around 400 tons of compost per year at its state-of-the-art static aeration compost facility, the only one of its kind in the Caribbean. Brown waste is broken down in the Morbark chipper before mixing with green waste. Aeration pads accelerate the natural composting process by forcing air into the decomposing piles, producing temperatures up to 160F which kill any weeds, seeds and harmful pathogens. As a non-profit organisation, Beacon Farms is fundraising to triple the size of the facility.

“Soil quality is one of the major challenges to farming on a commercial scale in the Cayman Islands,” said Urquhart, who has transformed five acres of rocky land into fertile fields at Beacon Farms. “Our rock-crushing machine has been a game changer for us, and we are now working with other farmers on land improvement projects. Compost is critical to the process, so we are grateful to Fosters and IWC for providing us with a steady supply of compostable materials.”

Materials are segregated and sorted at source by the Foster’s team, with green waste stored in locked bins to avoid contamination and collected by IWC for transportation to Beacon Farms. Aerobic composting of green waste minimizes the production of methane, a greenhouse gas 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 

“Whenever we can, we aim to divert waste from going to the landfill,” said Jason Brown, IWC managing director. “We are excited about the potential of expanding this programme to hotels and other commercial properties and the impact this will have on environmental health in Grand Cayman. We even have schools interested in participating as a sustainability initiative and are already working with Montessori by the Sea to collect their compostable waste.”

While IWC does not have the capacity to collect food waste from residential properties at this stage, there could be potential for expansion of the programme in the future. In the meantime, the focus is on bulk waste producers.

With six locations across Grand Cayman, the Foster’s group has sought to find an environmentally responsible solution to the inevitable waste produced by supermarkets. While every effort is taken to reduce food waste through careful inventorying and discounting or donating food that is still edible by humans or animals, some amount of wastage is unavoidable.

“As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” said Woody Foster, managing director of Foster’s. “We are delighted to see waste being put to such good use, with long-term benefits for local farmers and food production in the Cayman Islands.”

Commercial properties interested in enquiring about IWC’s compostable waste collection services should contact IWC by phone at 345-946-3867 or by email at Jason@iwc.ky .


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