Friday, 11 November 2011 09:21

A Short Saga of BioDiesel and State Control

There was a time, before 1996, when some intelligent drivers collected fried oil from restaurants. It was a win-win situation: restaurant people were happy to have their garbage disposed for free and the smart motorists were happy for replacing the expensive diesel fuel with filtered fried uneatable oil that restaurants had to dump anyway. MacGyver types marvelled their neighbors and acquaintances for driving expensive Diesel powered Mercedeces on vegetable oil. These cars were traceable by the unmistakable smell of french fries they left behind. 

But in 1996, a too smart guy, on his name Josh Tickell, started to drive his Veggie Van across the country. He made big news! And big news are not always good news, especially when talking about FREE collected garbage (fried vegetable oil from restaurants) turned into diesel engine fuel. Individuals preparing their own biodiesel were no more under the radar of the Washington Warthog, and some adjacent corporations. The biodiesel idea turned from a DIY oddity into corporate business, and into a tax and regulation nonsense. 

Before, the recyclers charged the restaurants for hauling the grease, it was considered junk. After, they started to pay for it, locking the restaurants into contracts, fabricating standard containers for the fried oil. It's currently against the law to leer a grease tank and the contract prevents the restaurants from handling you the grease before they put it in the containers. "The contracts are worded such that once the grease comes out of the fryer, it is the property of the recycler. Once something becomes commercially viable, the individual is screwed."

Many individuals had to give up their personal biodiesel fuel processors because they couldn't get any waste to process. The "waste" turned into a commodity over night, availability and prices went up, making it not affordable to individuals and eventually overpassing the price for crude oil processed diesel fuel. Early in the 1990s, the self-made biodiesel costed around 50 cents a gallon. Now look at the industry of biodiesel fuel, at the subsidies for biofuels and the food chain alterations they induce in agriculture

This way of trapping newly discovered resources into a corporate and government greed-lock is rather socialist control than a free market approach. All the newly imposed regulations and restrictions are fighting against the natural development of the market. From amongst the individuals collecting waste to burn it in their diesel engines, with time, some new businesses could emerge and, according to the free market laws, the novel value of fried oil disposed by restaurants would have a decent price, most likely lower than what crude oil diesel cost at the gas pumps. This would have created COMPETITION for gas pumps to lower their costs for diesel. But, in a world of state control and socialist regulations, the waste of yesteryear can be overpriced as gold today because the notion of competition got lost in the political paperwork.

 
 
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