Regulatory Nuts: To Approve Reuse of Waste

There are peanut allergies.  People can die if they eat a peanut by mistake. [Peanut Allergies Over-Reaction]

At the same time, there is a peanut shortage [Soaring Peanut Prices Hurt Food Banks]

Looks like a job for government regulators.  (I've been on both sides, with a decade as both a regulator and a decade as a private business and a decade in the non-profit / activist sector).

First, at the point the peanut is harvested, you put in rules against harvesting bad peanuts.  Ok, this really has nothing to do with deaths from peanut allergies, but you've been called and it doesn't sound unreasonable.

Peanut Stewardship:    Second, you institute a state procurement plan to pay for destruction of bad peanuts.  You've been told it's really expensive to remove bad peanuts.  So you tax peanut butter, peanut oil, the producers of new peanut snacks, to help pay for the inspection and removal of bad peanuts.

Now, since the peanut collectors are getting state funds (from peanut butter tax), it's reasonable to require more rules and regulations of these nut collectors.   In addition to the rules for what happens to bad peanuts removed through the subsidy program, you add a line about what may happen to the good peanuts.  Surely it's reasonable to track them.

The easiest way to regulate this is to declare all peanuts "bad" or "waste" or "p-waste", and then to set conditions under which they can be "de-wasted".

Local P-Waste Reuse:  You want to know how many peanuts are eaten locally.   Vermont is a small state with porous borders.  Since trucking is harder to track than you thought, you define "local" as the "United States of America".  If the peanuts are sold to Florida, California, Texas, Alaska or Hawaii, they must be tracked.  Define "local" as USA.

An anti-externalization/anti-globalization activist/watchdog suggests that sale of good peanuts could still be a loophole for export of bad peanuts to countries with little infrastructure to deal with them.  "Up to 80%" P-Waste exports result in crying children photos..  Regulators are paying so much for the bad peanut destruction, that would be a terrible loophole, a shame, if some bad peanuts were labelled good peanuts, and paid for by exporters instead of charged to the state subsidy... it would be a failure of the whole state subsidy program if bad peanuts got through.

Again, you don't actually have the authority to under RCRA Waste regulation to seize or regulate good peanuts.   So you define all peanuts as 'pwaste' even if they are not charged to the bad peanut removal program (because they were good peanuts).

Although they are not charged to your bad peanut removal program, the good peanuts must be tagged as "p-waste" at the point of collection.  They can be "un-wasted" if they qualify as good.  This is how you capture Reuse under RCRA, which has defined reuse not to be waste.

You institute a toe-tag label program.  Every single peanut collected in Vermont is labeled "p-waste", so that you maintain the authority in case a bad peanut is labelled a good peanut.  Do not tag bad walnuts, bad almonds, stones, dirt, roots, or  as waste, as these are not "covered nuts".  Not all waste is "p-waste", and not all "p-waste" is waste, and not all p-waste is covered by the subsidy...  clear enough.

Now, to define how good peanuts, not charged to the program, may be used.  Some good peanuts go into peanut butter, some go into peanut oil, some go into snacks.  You now ask the collectors to identify whether the peanuts are going into a snack, an oil, or a butter.  The collectors and farmers explain they don't know, they sell peanuts to a peanut buyer who grades and processes peanuts for sale.

To simplify, since the farmers are allowed to sell for "local" use, and most local reuse in Vermont is for snacks, you define local use to be snacks.  You then write a rule that the collectors can only sell peanuts to snacks, and that if sold as snacks, they cannot be charged to the bad peanut program.  But first they must be tagged as bad peanuts, so that snacks do not become a loophole for poisoning people.

This is not a game.  Remember, environmentalists have pictures of poor children.  People die.  The ebattled regulators have been accused by watchdogs of being pushed around by peanut collectors and processors, you need to demonstrate you can regulate this.  Be firm.

Now, peanuts sent for non-local reuse can be defined to be butters or oils.  You now need a plan from the peanut buyers, the ones who process peanuts for sale to oil, butter, and snack manufacturers. You don't want to complicate the paperwork you've created, so you ban the processors from selling for "local use" (forgetting you have defined the USA as "local", or perhaps not caring, or perhaps just living up to the laws you've written - its a thankless job).

If a peanut is sold as good to the "export" market for oils and butters, it must have been tagged a "waste" but must not have been charged to the "waste" program.  The professional peanut processors complain that selling perfectly good peanuts labelled as "waste" violates the health laws of the importing nation, which is trying to keep bad (waste) peanuts out of their products, and bans use of "waste" peanuts to make butters and oils.  Cleverly, you see this is an attempt to reopen the loophole, and must stand firm.

Now, the processor must define a plan for the export of "un-wasted" peanuts, regulated but not charged to the waste peanut program.  The plan needs to account for whether peanuts are sold for oil, waste, or snacks.  Is the shell removed?  Explain how the shell is left intact for the snack market, or removed for the butter market.  What?  Some snacks, such as candy bars, remove the shells?  Simple, just explain that in your plan so that sales can be approved.  Stop complaining.

Wait.  The bill you sent for waste peanut destruction shows that some peanuts have been removed.  While there was a plan and an understanding that peanuts would be removed for use, the missing peanuts must be labelled and tracked.  That is, in addition to not charging for them through the waste peanut program, and selling them only through a certified non-local (export) oil, butter, or snack program, you must INDIVIDUALLY account for the peanuts removed from individual bags of "p-waste".

All in all they're all just bricks in the wall
The processor tries to explain "triage".  The people like collectors or sorters are trained to remove bad peanuts.  They are not trained to know which peanuts are best sold for candy bars, peanut oil, or crunchy style or smooth peanut butter.  That happens at the buyers, or according to the purchase order QA/QC of the buyers.   Oil buyers have a different specification for "good" peanut than snack buyers.  In fact, a perfectly tested working peanut might not be right for the individual snack, oil, or butter factory.

The fact that a shell-on peanut is not accepted by the oil factory does not mean the shell-on peanut was "bad", but it will become "waste" if you send it to someone who doesn't or cannot shell peanuts.  This is the same fallacy of "tested working" and "fully functional" computers, they are not all acceptable at the best buyers.  Because your solution didn't work for them, that doesn't make them bad people!

Where do we go from here?

Should the farmers start shelling peanuts?

Should the processor start to tag every peanut, so that the farmer can report which peanuts were acceptable or rejected?

I cannot say which nut at the farm becomes an oil or a snack, and the snack manufacturer cannot say which farm a particular peanut came from.  If you subsidize destruction, and make reuse illogical or a red tape nightmare, you will wind up with more destruction and less reuse.  That serves the anti-gray market alliance, it serves planned obsolescence.  It does not serve the hungry.
Peanut # 11 reuse from Burlington, # 18 from Brattleboro

The big stick that the regulator holds against you is to deny funding for removal of what they have defined, virtually channelled, into bad peanuts categories, and to be accused of selling tainted food.

If I export good peanuts, but the regulator publicly says I'm not following government rules to ensure bad units have been "removed", it will damage my brand, my reputation, and my company.   Labelling my exports as "waste" seems to prove that allegation, that I am knowlingly exporting bad peanuts, toe-tagged by Vermont as P-waste.   I'm trying to write plans that explain whether we remove shells from peanuts sold for oil batches, or properly label "local" reuse (try explaining to blue collar staff that under THIS program, from THESE collectors, peanuts from Vermont sold to TEXAS are "local sales", but not to tag peanuts from the NY farms as "local sales" when THOSE go to Texas, because any other state would consider Texas to be non-local...)


This is how states will pay farmers to grow bad peanuts.  The food banks will not be causing allergies because of bad peanuts sold from Vermont.

This post was written in about 18 minutes... very different from "Monkeys Running The Environmental Zoo" (my all time highest read post, about the SB20 Program for CRTs in California which is driving people bananas).  But it also tries to capture the "thankless job" when a regulator is pressured into a manufacturing process they don't understand.  It starts with a bad premise, driven with poster children, which appeals to heartstrings.  It ends with higher taxes, more waste, and nothing to give to the food banks in the USA, or blood banks needing computers in Africa, and doing absolutely nothing for people with peanut allergies.

When perfect regulations happen to good people...  If you think this post is hard to understand, try reading the Vermont regulations on "e-waste", starting with a definition of "ewaste" which includes point of sale of brand new computers, but not junk stereos.  Junk VCRs are not "e-waste" in Vermont, but brand new in box computers driven over the border after Vermonters buy them from Best Buy in New Hampshire are defined by the regulations as "e-waste" before you even take them out of the box and plug them in.  As difficult as the peanut/p-waste analogy may be to understand, try reading the actual law, which says not only that "reuse" is e-waste but original use, of the computer on your desk, is ewaste.

"Reuse of waste" is an oxymoron when waste is defined as something discarded (not reused) or no longer intended for its manufactured purpose.  I'm told that the definition of "e-waste" does not tie at all to the word "waste", but it certainly has waste-ful connotations if I try to sell tested working product out of the state (for "local" use in Alaska, for example).  

Extending toe tags to healthy people in order to use the mortuary regulation infrastructure to govern health care - as much as you may want to regulate health care, that is just a bad idea.   I have an MBA in government management, and the way that Product Stewardship tackled complicated reuse and remanufacturing right out of the gate is a lesson in biting off more than one should try to chew.  I'm not against regulations.  But I am firmly against regulating when you do not yet know what you are talking about, and making it up as you go along.   As the pendulum swings, so swings the hatchet in Vermont.

Three Vermont used computer collectors have now quit or left the state.   So telling the governor that no one but Robin has a problem with the regulations may actually be true at some point... when Good Point is the only remaining business wearing a toe tag that isn't already dead.  Kill the businesses, and the accusation of mis-labelling toe tags goes away.

[blog-end - -   this is an under-appreciated song from the underappreciated musical, Finian's Rainbow, which dealt with peanut farmers and occupy-wall-street protests.  This song came from the gospel quartet, and it's one of the funniest songs about the attempts by church to regulate "supply and demand"  - "Bless them all that go to bat and heed the call of THE BEGAT"]

The Lord made Adam.
The Lord made Eve.
He made them both,
A little bit naive.

They lived as free
As the summer breeze,
Without pajamas and without chemise.

Until they stumbled
on the apple tree.

Then she looked at him,
(hum, hum)
And he looked at her,
(hum, hum)
And they knew immediately
What the world was fer...

- He said give me my cane
- He sais give me my hat.
- The time has come,
to begin the begat.
- The begat!
- The begat!
- That's it!

So they begat Caine.
And they begat Abel,
Who begat the rabble
At the Tow'r of Babel.

They begat the Cohens,
And they begat O'Rourkes.
And they begat the people
Who believed in storks.

- Holly Lordy, how they did begat!
And Lordy, Lordy, what they did begat!

When the begat got
to gettin' under par
They begat the daughters
of the D.A.R.

They begat the babbits
of the bourgeoisie,
They begat the misbegotten G.O.P.

It was a-pleasin't to Jezebel,
a-pleasin' to Ruth,
It pleased the League of Women Shoppers
in Duluth

Tho' the movie censors
tried the facts a hide
the movie goers open up and multiplied.

- Holly Lordy, how they multiplied!
- How they multiplied!
- How they multiplied!

Soon it swept the world
Ev'ry land and lingo.
It becanme the rage.
It was bigger than bingo.

The Whites begat, the Reds begat,
The folks who should have stood in bed begat.
The Greeks begat, the Swedes begat
Why, even Britishers in tweeds begat.

And, Lordy Lordy, what the seeds begat!

The Lats and Lithuanians, begat.
Scranton Pennsylvanians, begat .
Strictly vegetarians, begat.
And honorary Aryans, begat.
Startin from Genesis, they begat.
Heroes and menaces, begat
Fat filibusterers, begat.

Income tax adjusterers begat
To vetuler unnatelor to begat.
And sometimes a bachelor, he begat!
And didn't matter which-a-way they begat,
Son of a bitch away, begat.

Oh! Bless them Lord!
Who know do that,
And heed the call
of the begat!

(Alternative: last verse according to the movie)

Oh! Bless Them all!
Who go to bed.
And its the cause
Of the begat!

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