Integrated Material and Energy Recovery Facility

On December 5, 2023, the Lane County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to build a state-of-the-art Integrated Material and Energy Recovery Facility (IMERF) in Goshen, Oregon. The IMERF will be the most technologically advanced waste processing facility in the country and would utilize technology and equipment designed and built by a local manufacturer, Bulk Handling Systems.

The facility will process residential garbage, commingled recycling, and organic waste to produce marketable recycling commodities and biogas for transportation. The facility will divert over 80,000 tons of material from the County’s landfill annually and can serve as a regional recycling hub for southwest Oregon.

Project features:

  1. Advanced materials processing equipment to recover recyclable materials from solid waste headed to the landfill
  2. Sorting equipment for commingled recycling to reduce long haul shipment of locally collected recycling for processing
  3. Anaerobic digester to convert recovered organic wastes into Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) for transportation fuel
  4. Visitor and Educational Center for schools, community groups and other interested residents and businesses

 

An architect's rendering of the IMERF facility shown over a photo of the property where it will be located.

Project Goals

The principal goals of the project are to:

  • significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the landfill.
  • divert recyclable materials from waste that would otherwise be landfilled.
  • create local, sustainable economic development and jobs.
  • use proven recycling processing systems.
  • leverage public-private partnerships.
  • construct and operate at an affordable cost to the rate-payer.


 

Benefits

The IMERF represents a fundamental transformation for Lane County’s handling of municipal solid waste. Processing of waste to extract recyclables and energy is a major, comprehensive step forward. It will serve as a model for other counties in Oregon and across the country.

Project benefits include:
  • Mitigation of methane from Short Mountain Landfill - the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from County operations. Equivalent reduction of taking 20,000 cars off the road for the next 25 years.
  • Exceed a materials recovery rate of 63 percent and extend the remaining life of the County’s municipal solid waste landfill by more than 20 years.
  • Produce over 1 million diesel gallon equivalents per year of renewable natural gas (RNG). Fuel would be available for use in local transportation fleets and would have a negative carbon intensity under Oregon’s Clean Fuels Program.
  • Two-year construction project utilizing local companies – creating 190 high-paying manufacturing jobs during construction and 65 ongoing family wage jobs for the operation of the facility for the next 25 years.
  • Over $270 million in economic impacts benefiting Lane County over the life of the project.


Costs

The project is estimated to cost $150 million and will be shared by Lane County and Bulk Handling Systems.

Lane County will construct the building housing the processing equipment.

  • Building cost: $50 million
  • Tax Credit: $15 million
  • Construction cost to Lane County = $35 million (50-15)

Lane County would issue a capital improvement bond in spring of 2024 to cover up-front costs. Bond will be paid back over time through revenue from landfill tipping fees.


Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) will construct and install the equipment for the facility including the anaerobic digester, and provide all funding required.
  • Equipment cost = $100 million

BHS will supply and operate the equipment and will generate revenue over time through waste processing fees, sale of recyclable commodities, and sale of biogas.


Effect On Garbage Rates

Lane County currently has some of the lowest garbage rates in the state – primarily because the County owns the Short Mountain Landfill that does not operate to make a profit.

Starting with low rates, the rate increases needed to fund the project would have a relatively low impact to the average residential customer. Lane County is proposing 8 percent fee increases in 2024 and 2025, followed by 6 percent increases in 2026 and 2027. This does not include the annual 3 percent fee increase that helps Lane County maintain current levels of service. The annual 3 percent increase is not related to the IMERF.

The landfill disposal cost is approximately 20 percent of a customer’s residential garbage bill - so, for most residents, these increases would amount to less than a $2 per month increase in the first two years of the project.


The County is seeking federal and state funding to help offset future increases. Rate impacts to commercial customers vary significantly depending on the amount of waste generated. Estimates provided by a large local hauler estimate an average increase of three percent per year for the next 4 years for the average commercial customer.

Low-income assistance is proposed to offset fee increases for self-haul customers at each of the 15 transfer stations operated by Lane County. Residents qualifying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would receive $1 off each load with their Oregon Trail (EBT) Card.