john dewey
John Dewey, CEO of Mustang Renewable Power Ventures, speaks during the ReSource Center grand opening.

Santa Barbara County debuts renewable energy facility

Van Dyk Recycling Solutions supplied equipment for the MRF.

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Santa Barbara County officials, staff, engineers and contractors gathered July 16 at the Tajiguas landfill in Santa Barbara, California, for the grand opening of the ReSource Center, the county’s new recycling and waste management facility. The new facility with process waste that is collected within the county, turning it into recyclables and renewable energy, boosting the county’s diversion rate to 85 percent, a 60 percent increase, according to a news release from Van Dyk Recycling Solutions, the company that supplied the sorting system for the site’s material recovery facility (MRF). By dramatically reducing the volume of landfilled material, the ReSource Center will help extend the landfill’s by a decade.

The ReSource Center will accept solid waste from the South Coast and Santa Ynez Valley areas of Santa Barbara County, including the unincorporated communities in these areas, and from the California cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Solvang and Buellton.

Santa Barbara Supervisor Joan Hartmann said at the opening that the facility “allows for recycling and reuse of materials, turning a liability into an asset,” according to the news release.

The ReSource Center receives 600 to 700 tons of waste and 150 to 80 tons of recyclables per day and anticipates processing between 150,000 and 180,000 tons of trash and recyclables annually. The MRF, which is operated by Marborg Industries of Santa Barbara, sorts through the waste and separates it by size, weight, density and composition. The equipment supplied by Van Dyk Recycling Solutions of Norwalk, Connecticut, includes size reducers for liberating bags, 3D trommels, anti-wrapping screens, air density separators, elliptical separators, 11 optical sorters to identify recyclables by composition and a high-capacity baler from Bollegraaf Recycling Solutions.

Referring to the county’s commitment to having a recycling, renewable energy, anaerobic digestion and composting facility at a single site, John Dewey, CEO of Mustang Renewable Power Ventures, the project developer, said, “Nobody else has done it like this in a single location with all these various components.”

In addition to recyclables, the ReSource Center recovers organic material, such as food scraps and other wet, heavy material. Organic waste makes up around 40 to 45 percent of the county’s trash. Once recovered, this waste is transferred to the anaerobic digestor on-site, where it is dumped into heated tunnels and sealed airtight. It is then pumped with a mixture of 97 percent water and 3 percent cattle manure to start the digestion process. The natural bacteria in the manure breaks down the organic waste to produce methane gas, which is then harnessed to create renewable electricity that is sold back to SoCal Edison (Southern California’s primary electricity supply company). The electricity produced is enough to power the Resource Center itself, as well as 1,000 to 1,200 homes, Van Dyk says. Additionally, the amount of carbon emissions contained in this process is the equivalent of removing 29,000 cars from the road each year.

The leftover material in the anaerobic digester tunnels is then sent to the site’s composter, where any remaining glass or film plastic is removed and the compost is dried out. The county already has demand for the compost from local farmers, according to Van Dyk, which supplied the densimetric table that was manufactured by Allgaier Process Technology.

Leslie Wells, deputy Public Works director, says the facility allows Santa Barbara to take responsibility for its own waste material and turn it into benefits for the community.