First Recycling Collection Truck


Only six decades ago waste was routinely deposited on nearby sand dunes, burned and the ash buried on site. City leaders at the time got together and petitioned the County Board of Supervisor to find a solution. In response, the District was created in 1951. (Initially called the Monterey Peninsula Garbage and Refuse Disposal District). The mission was to manage the Peninsula’s waste by establishing a sanitary landfill to replace the old “dumps” then in operation.

Since, numerous new technologies, systems and strategies have been put in place to maximize efficiency and effective disposal and resource recovery for our local jurisdictions. Today, MRWMD is recognized as one of the “Best Solid Waste Systems in North America”.


Visit the MRWMD Timeline to learn more about the development of our local waste management system and the Monterey Peninsula landfill.


60 Year Anniversary Time Line

Early Years at LCM

The LCM Sales crew

Household Hazardous Waste Program

The District’s HHW collection program began in 1985 with waste screening to remove and properly manage hazardous waste found in mixed refuse.  It quickly expanded in 1986 to serve residents with periodic mobile collection events which were among the first to be held in California.  While successful, mobile events were expensive to produce and led the MRWMD to establish in 1987 the first permanent facility in Monterey County to collect and manage hazardous materials. (Read More)

Experience gained from waste screening and mobile collection events all contributed to the design and utilization of a District HHW collection facility. A new state-of-the-art permanent facility was designed, built and opened in 1996.

Over the years of operation hazardous material turn-ins has grown from 89,250 lbs in 1991 to an annual average of one million lbs. today.

Approximately 60% of the materials turned in to the HHW collection program are reused by our customers through a unique “drop and swap” program developed in partnership with the Last Chance Mercantile in 1990.

The “drop and swap“, reuse program dramatically reduces the disposal costs for the program. Instead of shipping reusable products such as household cleaners, automotive products, and latex and oil-based paints to a costly hazardous waste treatment or disposal facility, the District strives to return the usable products back to the community.  District staff inspects each item and assesses it for potential reuse.  The products that are reusable are then made available to the public for free.

Early Years at LCM

The LCM Sales crew

Last Chance Mercantile

It started as an auction, and today is one the largest reuse stores in the region.

The Last Chance Mercantile (LCM) took root in 1991 when District staff began salvaging reusable goods from incoming loads of trash. An old building once used for maintenance and storage by a flower bulb growing operation was re-purposed into a store front where the public attended the first sales event, an auction. This was followed by monthly sales, which evolved into a part-time store, and eventually the five day per week operation it is today. Staff considered calling it the  “second chance mercantile”, but  ultimately it was named the “last chance” because anything that did not sell would wind up in the landfill.

A new 8,000 square foot Last Chance Mercantile building was opened for business in October 1996. The new facility was located on a nine-acre parcel obtained just three years, before from Dole Fresh Vegetables Co. in exchange for use of the landfill access road.

From the beginning, the District did not want to compete with charitable resale shops in the community. They have the advantage of convenient locations in town close to the population.  Staff learned that it was convenient, however, for customers to deliver reusable goods, recyclables, hazardous materials, electronic waste, and trash in one trip to one location and led to the slogan “Drop and Shop”.

August 2007, The Last Chance Mercantile was recognized with the distinguished Pavitra Crimmel Reuse Award from the California Resource Recovery Association.

The Last Chance became home of the District’s California Redemption Value (bottles and cans) Buy Back Center in May 2011.

It continues today to be one of the most enjoyed shopping venues in the area, and a successful means of keeping hundreds of tons of valuable, reusable goods and resources out of the landfill.

Early Years at LCM

The LCM Sales crew

A History of Diversion

The Materials Recovery Facility opened in April of 1996. The $9.6 million facility was designed and built in response to the AB 939 mandate requiring California cities and counties to reduce their waste by 50% by the year 2000.) Since it opened, the MRF has diverted more than 1.1 million tons of recyclable and reusable materials from landfill disposal. As a result, MRWMD member jurisdictions have enjoyed some of the highest diversion levels in the State.

Future Resource Recovery

With the passing of AB 341 (Link to PDFs on AB 341 legislation and press release.), in October 2011, the California diversion goal has increased to 75% by 2020. (AB 341 also mandates commercial and multifamily residential recycling as of July 1, 2012.)

To address this new diversion goal and mandated recycling, further MRF development (“MRF Improvement Project”) is being considered, to allow for recovery of up to 75% or more of the mixed waste stream from both commercial and multi-family sources, in addition to continuing to process the construction and demolition and self-haul loads it now receives.

More LFG


History of the MRWMD Landfill Gas-to-Energy Project

In 1983, the Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) began capturing approximately 864,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The methane gas was used as the sole source of fuel for two Waukesha engine generators that delivered an average of 1200 Kilowatts (kW) of electrical energy to Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

EMCON Associates designed the well field and promoted the project. Perennial Energy, Inc. designed and installed the original engine generator system. The project was developed by Palmer Capital of Chicago and financed by the Bank of New England. In 1986 the MRWMD acquired the engine system, and EMCON purchased the gas rights and collection system.

In 1994, the project was expanded. A new 3,700-sq.-ft. building was constructed to house up to four engine generators and switchgear equipment. A third generator was installed, enlarging the overall production capacity of the facility to 2,100 kW. The expansion of the project enabled the District not only to produce enough power to meet all of its own needs but also to generate a greater surplus of electricity to sell to P G & E.

The 1994 expansion of the project was designed by District staff, the Paul Davis Partnership, and Applied Power. It was constructed by Daniels and House Construction.

The Caterpillar engine was supplied by Quinn Caterpillar. Financing was provided through  Monterey Regional Waste Management Authority bonds. In 1998 the landfill gas building was named after Michael N. Coulias, retired District Equipment Maintenance Supervisor, who was primarily responsible for the successful operation of the LFG facility from 1984 -1997.

Instruments monitor each well and collect data to allow maximum production and ensure minimum gas emissions from the landfill to the environment. As part of the District’s environmental monitoring program, probes have been installed to detect migrating landfill gas. The Monterey Peninsula Landfill was the first in the U.S. to use Austrian-made Jenbacher engines. They were installed in 1997, 1998 and 2002. These engines are designed to burn landfill gas and are used extensively in Europe and other parts of the world.

In 2006 the District installed a new CAT 3520 landfill gas engine to replace the existing 3516. The new unit delivers twice the amount of kW as the original engine. And in 2009 the District installed a new Jenbacher 420 replacing an existing 320. The new unit delivers 40% more power than the previous Jenbacher.

Currently, the system collects 1.5 million cubic feet of gas per day from a 100-acre area containing refuse buried for nearly 40 years. It includes 41 horizontal and vertical gas wells in the active areas of the landfill.

The District’s four engine generators consume the landfill gas as fuel to produce 5,000 kilowatts of electricity, more than enough to power all the operations on site. The surplus is sold on the grid, providing electricity to more than 4,000 homes. . Heat exchangers are designed to capture waste heat from the radiators and send it to District buildings for heating and to produce hot water.

By using its own power, the District saves approximately $350,000 per year. Gross revenues from the project for FY 2011/12 were $2,789,000.

The District is a “Partner” in U.S. EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program.

Engine Specifications

Caterpillar 3520C (2006)

KATO Alternator
V-20 5,263 Cubic Inches
1,600 kW @ 1,200 RPM
20 Cylinders
Fuel Consumption: 575 cfm

Jenbacher JGS 320 (2002)

KATO Alternator
2,970 Cubic Inches
1,057 kW @ 1,800 RPM
20 Cylinders
Fuel Consumption: 370 cfm

Jenbacher JGS 320 (1998)

AVK Alternator
2,970 Cubic Inches
987 kW@1,500 RPM
20 Cylinders
Fuel Consumption: 370 cfm

Jenbacher JGS 420 (2009)

AVK Alternator
3728 Cubic Inches
1,425 kW @ 1800 rpm
20 Cylinders
Fuel Consumption: 500 scfm

Building Size

3,700 s.f.


Engines (4) and Installation
Total Cost

Other Equipment Data

Houston  2000SCFM (1)

Gas Filter
3 Tier, 1 Micron Upright

3 Amercool, 25 HP. Units

Heat Transfer
3 Heat Exchanger

Overhead Crane
10-Ton Crane Pro



60 Year Anniversary Time Line

Historical Highlights


Household Hazardous Waste

Last Chance Mercantile

Materials Recovery Facility

*MRWMD Service Area Includes the following jurisdictions:

Moss Landing, Castroville, Marina, Seaside, Del Rey Oaks, Sand City, Monterey, Monterey-Salinas Highway area, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Carmel, Unincorporated Carmel, Carmel Valley, Carmel Highlands, and Big Sur

It is a Small Planet, Recycle!

14201 Del Monte Boulevard
Marina, CA 93933-1670
Phone: (831) 384-5313
Fax: (831) 384-3567

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