Managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the goal of the BioPreferred Program is to increase the purchase and use of biobased products. The BioPreferred Program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized and expanded as part of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill). The Program’s purpose is to spur economic development, create new jobs and provide new markets for farm commodities. The increased development, purchase, and use of biobased products reduces our nation’s reliance on petroleum, increases the use of renewable agricultural resources, and contributes to reducing adverse environmental and health impacts.
Mandatory purchasing requirements for federal agencies and their contractors; and, a voluntary labeling initiative for biobased products. While the BioPreferred Program does not provide financial support for its participants, USDA’s Rural Development agency offers loan and grant programs that may be applicable. For more information, please click here.
Federal law, the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and Presidential Executive Orders direct that all federal agencies purchase biobased products in categories identified by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). To date, USDA has identified 139 categories (e.g. cleaners, carpet, lubricants, paints) of biobased products for which agencies and their contractors have purchasing requirements. Each mandatory purchasing category specifies the minimum biobased content for products within the category. The BioPreferred Program provides acquisition tools, the BioPreferred Catalog and training resources to assist in meeting biobased purchasing requirements.
As consumers consider purchasing options with sustainable attributes, USDA wants to make it easy for consumers to identify biobased products. The USDA Certified Biobased Product label, displayed on a product certified by USDA, is designed to provide useful information to consumers about the biobased content of the product.
A business with a biobased product that meets USDA criteria may apply for certification, allowing them to display the USDA Certified Biobased Product label on the product. This label assures a consumer that the product contains a verified amount of renewable biological ingredients (referred to as biobased content). Consumers can trust the label to mean what it says because manufacturer’s claims concerning the biobased content are third-party certified and strictly monitored by USDA.
Biobased products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials and provide an alternative to conventional petroleum derived products. Biobased products include diverse categories such as lubricants, cleaning products, inks, fertilizers, and bioplastics. For the purposes of the BioPreferred Program, biobased products do not include food, animal feed, or fuel. This document provides more information about biobased content and how it is determined. Products participating in the voluntary labelling initiative have their biobased content measured using ASTM D6866 as part of the certification process.
The Program’s purpose is to spur economic development, create new jobs, and provide new markets for farm commodities. By harnessing the powers of certification and the marketplace, the Program helps purchasers and users identify products with biobased content and assures them of its accuracy.
A biobased product is a commercial or industrial product (other than food or feed) that is composed, in whole or in significant part, of biological products, including renewable domestic agricultural materials (including plant, animal, and aquatic materials), forestry materials, intermediate materials, or feedstocks. Biobased products exclude motor vehicle fuels, heating oil, or electricity produced from biomass.
Biobased content may be estimated using the ratio of “new” organic carbon (such as from agricultural materials) to total organic carbon (“new” + “old” or petroleum-based carbon). Water and inorganic carbon (such as carbonate) are excluded. This document provides more information about biobased content and how it is determined. The Program uses ASTM D6866 to quantify the biobased content of a product during the certification process.
The USDA Certified Biobased Product label is not a guarantee or warranty of safety or an expression of environmental preference or impact. The increased use of biobased products is expected to help reduce petroleum consumption by increasing the use of renewable resources, reducing the amount of additional carbon released into the atmosphere. This may help to better manage the carbon cycle, and in turn, reduce resultant adverse environmental and health impacts. For more information on environmental marketing claims please refer to the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides.
Biobased content percentages indicate the percentage of renewable, “new” organic carbon in a product. More renewable organic carbon does not necessarily indicate superior performance, safety, or environmental impact.