The facility will expand recycling capabilities and reduce greenhouse gas
Dozens of government officials, county staff and contractors gathered at the site of the Tajiguas Landfill on Friday afternoon to celebrate the opening of the new Santa Barbara County ReSource Center.
The new center, located between Goleta and Gaviota, will divert an additional 60% of waste from the landfill, bringing the region to a diversion rate of 85%. In addition, the facility will create enough energy to power 2,000 homes and champion the largest greenhouse gas reduction effort the county has ever seen.
“This is a great day for Santa Barbara County,” Leslie Wells, the deputy director of the county’s Public Works Department, said during Friday’s ceremony. “This will serve as a model for other communities and minimize the impact of our waste on our own environment – an excellent example. It’s an action that communities across the country are going to have to take in order to better use and protect our resources into the future.”
The new $130 million facility has two components — a new Materials Recovery Facility and an anaerobic digester.
The two components of the new facility will work in tandem. The recovery facility will remove organic trash, including food waste, wet paper and wet cardboard. After the trash is sorted, a truck will take the waste to the anaerobic digester, where the trash will be mixed with water and cow manure and heated to produce biomethane.
That biomethane can then be combusted in an engine and converted into two megawatts of renewable energy, according to John Dewey, the owner of Mustang Renewable Power Ventures.
“That renewable energy, what that does for us, is it improves our grid resiliency,” Mr. Dewey said Friday. “We all know the importance of resilient, renewable energy, particularly here in the South Coast. That should give us a little bit of a backup when we have those SoCal Edison Power and public safety power shutdown events.”
The new facility comes at a time when officials are eyeing ways to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis along the Central Coast. In addition to bringing long-term solutions to solid waste disposal issues in the region, the new facility will produce green, alternative energy and maximize the county’s recycling capability.
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, told the News-Press at Friday’s event that he hopes this new facility will serve as an example to other areas across the state and country of how to create long term solutions that help the environment.
“My hope is that this continues to benefit Santa Barbara County residents immensely, as it was envisioned from the get go,” Rep. Carbajal said. “For my part in my role at the federal government, I plan to take this concept back and highlight this model as a scalable technology that we can use across the country, and look at how we might incentivize and create opportunities and incentives, so more jurisdictions throughout the country can use this to address climate change, divert their solid waste, minimize their impact into our environment, great renewable energy and create jobs.”
First District Supervisor Das Williams said Friday that it’s “hard to fathom” the difference this will make for the future of the county. He praised the multi-jurisdictional success of the project and told attendees that this will be the first of many projects the county will take on to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“We’re going to be part of the solution to our environmental problems,” Mr. Williams said. “And I can tell you that the county isn’t done here. We’re going to continue to work on solutions. And I think that it is amazing to be standing here with my city council members, with my fellow supervisors and with the contractors and community partners to make solutions that will improve our environment and make another generation be able to live on this planet.”