Closing the loop on eight decades in business, Santa Barbara-based MarBorg Industries is returning to the full-cycle business model it pioneered in the years before the Great Depression.
In remarks to the Santa Barbara Executive Roundtable on Sept. 13, Marborg General Manager Derek Carlson described how the company’s planned materials recycling center in the East Santa Barbara industrial area could include an anaerobic digester that would convert green waste into methane that would then fuel the company’s fleet of compressed natural gas trucks.
The new facility, which Carlson told the Business Times could cost between $40 million and $60 million, would be one of the newest in California and it could open as early as 2014. “It will be automated with optical scanners,” that will identify valuable pieces of scrap before they enter the waste stream, he told the group.
Carlson described how the full-cycle trash disposal model originated in the 1920s when Mario Borgatello, Sr., now 94, and his late brother Charles, hauled food waste from the former Bliss Estate in Montecito, now the site of Casa Dorinda. The Borgatello brothers used the waste to feed their pigs, which were then sent off to market, generating much-needed cash for the family, Carlson said.
As recently as 1995, Marborg, now run by the founder’s son, Mario, and other family members, was a small trash hauler with a staff of 24. Today, the company has 350 workers and it has diversified into fences, portable toilets, roll-off trailers for construction sites and related ventures. A fierce competitor, it has steadily increased its hold on trash-hauling routes and built a reputation for super-clean trucks and friendly staff.
Several years ago, it converted its fleet to use compressed natural gas, a move that required building a new fueling station dedicated to servicing its fleet; it worked closely with Southern California Gas to implement the plan.
Carlson said the diversification was partly a response to competitors that were adding disposal services to existing businesses in portable toilet rentals or construction fencing.
Carlson said one goal of the new recycling center was to dramatically reduce the amount of trash going into Santa Barbara County’s Tajiguas Landfill, a move that could extend the landfill’s 10 years of current capacity to 50 years or more depending on how much waste can be removed via recycling.
In Ventura County, E.J. Harrison & Sons, Limoneira and partner Agromin have built a large mulching operation to divert tons of green waste every year. Thanks to a recent ruling by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors on a zoning text amendment, Agromin, Harrison and Limoneira have begun exploring the possibility of putting a green waste to methane plant in West Ventura County.