Mondo Recycling Vision

If bureaucratic studies are the stuff of dreams, the Santa Barbara City Council approved a $90,000 dream on Tuesday, paving the way for the future construction of a massive recycling facility capable of sorting out glass, scrap metal, cardboard, plastics, and other marketable recyclable materials. Currently, the county ships annually some 25,000 tons of residential recyclables — half of that from the City of Santa Barbara — to a privately owned facility in Ventura, using the proceeds to help underwrite the cost of dump tipping fees. But some councilmembers believe City Hall could pocket roughly $1.4 million per year from the operation of a city-owned Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) and the sale of recyclables. Additionally, the council hopes to increase the overall tonnage diverted from the city landfill. Santa Barbara’s two privately owned trash haulers, BFI and MarBorg, have separately expressed keen interest in such an operation. BFI indicated a willingness to pony up $8 million toward the construction of such a plant, although it has no land. MarBorg already operates a limited MRF — sorting recyclables collected from commercial customers, not residential — on property leased from the City near the airport; that operation could possibly be expanded. The MRF feasibility study will be underwritten in a joint effort by the City and County of Santa Barbara, and the cities of Goleta and Santa Maria.

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