Recycling Rope-a-Dope

MarBorg and County Square Off

Thursday, November 15, 2012
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MarBorg Industries will be allowed to propose building a massive materials recovery facility (MRF) that sorts out recyclable materials from trash on Quarantina Street to compete with a similar facility now backed by the County of Santa Barbara and Mustang Renewable Power Ventures — a private firm out of San Luis Obispo — which have been pushing to build a major MRF at Tajiguas Landfill.

Whether built by MarBorg or Mustang, the new MRF is an integral part of a multi-jurisdictional plan spearheaded by County Public Works to extend the permitted life of the Tajiguas Landfill, now estimated to expire in 10 years. The proposal hatched by Mustang — and embraced by County Public Works — would extend the life of the landfill by more effectively picking out the recyclables in the waste stream and by “cooking” what’s left of the garbage in an industrial anaerobic digestion chamber that accelerates the natural composting process and taps the natural gases thus released, converting them into electricity. Most of what’s left would be given away as a soil amendment; the rest would be buried in the landfill.

MarBorg entered the fray late in the game, asking to submit a plan well after Mustang’s proposal had been selected. Given that MarBorg, which just recently secured a near monopoly over South Coast waste hauling, already operates a 65,000-square-foot recycling facility on the Eastside — far closer to most households and businesses that generate the South Coast’s trash than Tajiguas, which is located on the Gaviota Coast — government decision makers found themselves hard-pressed to reject MarBorg’s entreaty. MarBorg’s proposal will be considered in the alternatives section of the environmental impact report for the Tajiguas extension plan. That contract for that report — which will cost $1.2 million to prepare — was approved by the county supervisors this Tuesday. It will take approximately 21 months to certify. Mustang officials estimate it will cost $70 million to build the facility they envision at Tajiguas.


Independent Discussion Guidelines


John_Adams (anonymous profile)
November 15, 2012 at 10:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Perhaps Mr Adams. But the County has had a monopoly for landfilling for 50 years. Watcha think of that?

dontoasthecoast (anonymous profile)
November 15, 2012 at 5:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This article is simply about Marborg being allowed to *make a proposal*. That does not at all translate into a monopoly. Do you suggest that the government choose poorer, more costly proposals in order to avoid monopolies? How can it even be a monopoly when it's a contract with the government? There's a reason to object to monopolies, but it doesn't apply here.

JayB (anonymous profile)
November 15, 2012 at 7:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If charging less money for better service, as is the Marborg model, creates a monopoly, then so be it and I wish we had more monopolies like Marborg. Further, they contribute selflessly to all kinds of community causes that go unheralded. Gosh, if only the City of Santa Barbara could take over garbage and recycling just imaging how much better things would be...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
November 16, 2012 at 8:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Who really believes that Marborg will continue to charge less money for better service after a couple of years when no other corporation is available to compete with them?

In five years, trash hauling will be 20% more expensive regardless of the intent in awarding a monopoly contract.

A sad state of affairs when Marborg is the preferred alternative to the Mustang-oil salesmen.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
November 16, 2012 at 10:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Almost all forms of public utilities are monopolies. It would make little sense to have several power companies, sewer companies, water companies all competing for the same costumers. And in fact the County deal with Mustang is for a 20 year monopoly to sort and compost our trash. It includes a "put or pay" provision that eliminates any potential competition. Mustang is a company cobbled together just to bid on this contract, has no experience in trash at all. Marborg on the other hand has vast experience.

dontoasthecoast (anonymous profile)
November 16, 2012 at 2:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Seems to be interesting tradeoffs ... if the MRF is built on Quarantina St instead of at Tajiguas, there will be some fraction of Santa Ynez's and Cuyama's recyclable waste stream that ends up getting hauled to SB, then back up to Tajiguas. But the South Coast probably generates a lot more trash so not necessarily a bad trade?

Also, I believe recyclables originating in SB are currently hauled down to Gold Coast Recycling in Ventura. Gold Coast then picks out high-value content and sells the remainder (including plastic grocery bags) to a third party for eventual disposal/burning, possibly in a third-world country. Would the entire SB recyclables stream be diverted to MRF?

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
November 17, 2012 at 2:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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