Santa Barbara County Officials are looking to transform the Tajiguas Landfill into a more environmental- ly friendly facility while still allowing its expansion to cope with increasing amounts of waste.
The county held a meeting last week to review methods of renovating the facility and discussed measures such as organizing waste and removing recyclable items, as well as using organic materials to produce energy.
The resource recovery project was launched 10 years ago upon approval of the county’s plans to expand the facility over the course of the subsequent 15 years.
Megan Birney, renewable energy spe- cialist for the Santa Barbara Community Environmental Council, said the facility is able to produce natural methane ener- gy through better sorting and processing of the waste it regularly handles.
“The purpose is to decrease the amount of trash being buried at Tajiguas,” Birney said. “What the county is looking at is a two-stage process where they take every- thing you put in your trashcan and then sort it. [They] pull out all recyclables and pull out all organics. Everything that is organic they would put through something called an anaerobic digester and what that does is decompose all of those organics and produce methane which they can use to create energy.”
Santa Barbara Resource Recovery and Waste Management Operations Manager Mark Tautrim said recycling in the facility would create a more sustainable means of waste processing while generating revenue for the county.
“The proposal is to construct a Materials Recycling Facility that waste would go into and be separated out into the different commodities that can be recycled and then those products would be marketed,” Tautrim said. “The other part of the project is anaerobic digestion [which] would convert organic waste into energy [and] the power from that would then be sold to Edison.”
A private company will oversee the facility’s ongoing development, which Tautrim said was first initiated when many Santa Barbara community mem- bers expressed the need for a more environmentally sound means of waste management to better utilize renewable resources.
“The project was created as a general wish of the public to better handle our waste. Instead of just burying waste [we could] come up with a way to produce something from that,” Tautrim said. “It’s a benefit to the community in which these facilities are [located] to be able to produce energy and a product that is worthy of sale.”
However, Tautrim said the project’s resultant construction is concerning to many local residents.
“The disadvantages are in the con- struction and final product … [There] will be two large buildings on the Gaviota Coast,” Tautrim said. “[It’s] an industrial-type operation going on in an otherwise pretty rural area. Even though the landfill exists there now, it’s not as commercial as having two large buildings or facilities handling a very industrial-typeoperation.”