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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