Project Update

­The Resource Recovery Project at Tajiguas Landfill:
More Recycling, Composting and Energy from Our Waste


Dozens of successful programs have been implemented by our South Coast and Santa Ynez Valley communities over the­ past 20 years. Jurisdictions served by Tajiguas divert more than 70% of their waste from the landfill. Despite this success, over 170,000 tons of material is still being landfilled each year.

  • We are looking at new ways of managing what is still being buried
  • Whatever is implemented is not a replacement for existing programs… but an enhancement
  • It is an opportunity to reclaim resources currently being buried (recyclables, compost, energy)
  • It is an opportunity to extend landfill capacity and decrease generation of greenhouse gases

Goals of Project

  • 20-year solution for solid waste management
  • Competitive rates compared to alternatives
  • Significantly reduce environmental impacts of landfilling municipal solid waste
  • Maximize recycling
  • Generate green energy
  • Invest in the local economy


In 2002, County Board of Supervisors directed staff to look into alternatives to landfilling after approving the most recent Tajiguas Landfill expansion. In 2007, the County, in partnership with the cities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Solvang and Buellton began a regional effort to examine the feasibility of Conversion Technology or a project to recover additional resources from the waste stream and potentially generate green energy. A feasibility study was completed in 2008, which determined there were companies capable of achieving our community waste management goals. Building on the work of the feasibility report, City and County staff cooperatively developed and released an RFP in 2009. Prior to the release of the RFP, all participating City Councils also approved the release of the document. Responses to the RFP were received in the summer of 2010 and a review of those responses was completed in 2011.


Development of a Resource Recovery Enhancement Project that would process municipal solid waste (MSW) from the communities currently served by the Tajiguas Landfill (i.e. the south coast of Santa Barbara County including the Cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta and the Santa Ynez and Cuyama Valleys including the Cities of Solvang and Buellton). This Resource Recovery Enhancement Project would be constructed and operated in partnership with Mustang Renewable Power Ventures and would include the following facilities.

  1. Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) - this facility would sort the MSW into three streams:
    • Recyclables - that would be separated, baled and sold for reuse
    • Organics - that would be recovered for composting in the Anaerobic Digestion Facilitiy
    • Residue - materials left over after all recyclables and organics are recovered
  2. Anaerobic Digestion Facilitity (ADF) - this facility would convert all organics recovered from the MSW into digestate and biogas.
    • The digestate would be aerobically cured into a compost product that would be marketed as a soil amendment or used for reclamation projects
    • The biogas would be converted at a power plant into electricity
  3. Power Plant - this facility would use the biogas generated by the ADF for fuel to generate electricity.


  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction ~ According to the EPA's WARM calculations this project will reduce the local GHG impact by 133,382 MTCO2E (Metric Tons Carbon Dioxide Equivalent) a year.  This is equal to 26,153 passenger vehicles on the road annually.  Locally, this porject has the potential to be the single largest reducer of GHGs and the biggest help toward achieving AB32 requirements (State mandated GHG reductions to pre-1990 levels by 2020).
  • Economic development through private investment resulting in over $800,000 in annual property tax, 40 construction jobs and 56 permanent jobs related to operations of the facilities.
  • Increases region's recycling rate from over 70% to over 80% (meets AB 341 goal of 75% in 2020).
  • Generates 1 megawatt of renewable energy and helps region achieve SBX12 requirements (33% of statewide energy production from renewable sources by 2020).
  • Long Term Solution ~ 20-year waste management plan (meets CalRecycle's 15-year disposal capacity requirement).
  • Cost-effective solution (little or no additional cost to ratepayer compared to alternatives.

For more information on this project please contact:

Carlyle A. Johnston (805) 882-3617 Recovery Project 2013.pdf Resource Recovery Project 2013.pdf  204.66 KB  

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