USDA BioPreferred® Program Application

Measuring % Biobased Carbon Content by ASTM D6866 analysis

We welcome inquiries on ASTM D6866 biobased content testing.

What does “biobased” mean?

The ASTM D6866 analytical standard defines “biobased” as containing organic carbon of renewable origin like agricultural, plant, animal, fungi, microorganisms, marine, or forestry materials living in a natural environment in equilibrium with the atmosphere. 

Biobased products are derived in whole or in part from biomass resources. Since carbon-14 is only present in living or recently expired material, Carbon-14 testing using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) is the most effective method to determine the amount of biobased carbon versus the petroleum-derived carbon in raw materials or any given end product.

USDA Certified Biobased Application Reminders:

  • Before submitting your samples, please consult directly with the BioPreferred Program.
    How to apply for BioPreferred Certification?
  • Make sure your Biobased Participant Agreement has been signed and accepted.
  • Results obtained in advance of the signed agreement and acceptance into the program will not be accepted by the USDA.

Beta Analytic is committed to provide high-quality, reliable testing to fulfill the requirements of the USDA’s BioPreferred Program. We are not affiliated with the USDA or the BioPreferred Program.

Ready to submit samples for ASTM D6866 analysis?

1. Decide on the turnaround time then submit a form.

Biobased Testing Services How fast do you need the results?

Standard Service – results are reported in 7 business days or less
Priority Service – 4 business days or less

lab recommendation Fill out the correct submission form

Use our “Biobased & USDA Samples” form.

Send your USDA Application Number and the Documentation of Sample Selection by Manufacturer/Vendor forms. These forms are attached to the email notification you will receive from the USDA BioPreferred Program.

reminder icon

Let us know if your samples have volatile components or carbonates. Discussion must be pursued prior to analysis to ensure accurate results.

2. Prepare the required sample size and containers

Sample Size Requirements Sample Size Required

SOLIDS (MAXIMUM) – 0.1 to 1 oz (2.8 to 25 grams) for retail piece or applicable sub-sample
Plastic Pellets – 5 to 10 grams ONLY

If your product is bigger, please contact the USDA BioPreferred Program to obtain approval for sub-sampling before it is submitted for testing.

Please contact the lab for discussion prior to submitting the following:

  • Multi-component or multi-color samples (e.g. toys, toothbrush, diapers, sanitary pads)
  • Materials NOT SUITABLE for garbage disposal

LIQUIDS – DO NOT send more than we require.
Chemicals, solvents, lubricants, oils, liquids with high petrochemical content – 1 mL (1 cc) per sample
Liquids with no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – 10 mL (10 cc) per sample

US$500 per sample disposal fee will be charged for excess chemicals and liquids with high petrochemical content.

reminder icon

Heterogeneity issues – Results will only be representative of the actual material analyzed. Heterogeneous materials should be discussed with the laboratory prior to analysis to ensure the sample is representative of the whole product.

reminder icon

Presence of Carbonates – The lab needs to know if there are carbonates within your product and discussion must be pursued prior to analysis to ensure accurate results.

ASTM D6866 requires carbonate components to be excluded from the biobased content result. Special procedures are required for materials containing carbonates. Contact the BioPreferred Program ( with any questions on testing samples with undetectable or encapsulated inorganic carbon.

reminder icon

Beta Analytic doesn’t accept samples with artificial isotopes.

Unless otherwise instructed, we will sub-sample the submitted material in a quantity reasonable for the analytical method. If there are any special instructions to ensure the sub-sample best represents the client’s interests, please discuss with the laboratory prior to analysis. Since the laboratory cannot be experts in all manufacturing processes and products, the responsibility for analysis of a representative sub-sample lies with the client/submitter.

Retail or Intermediate?

Your application with the USDA BioPreferred Program will ask you to list your product as either a retail product or an intermediate product. “Retail” is defined as a product that is purchased directly by the consumer or is packaging used “as-is” to contain a product purchased by the consumer. “Intermediate” is a raw material which is sold, then modified or used in making a “retail” which is then purchased by the consumer.

If you have listed your material on the USDA Certified Biobased application as an intermediate product, it is OK to sub-sample and deliver in any packaging appropriate for the material. Beta Analytic will take a picture once the sample is received in the laboratory.

If you have listed your material on the USDA Certified Biobased application as a retail product, the BioPreferred Program would like you to send a sample in its retail packaging (usually the smallest available is requested by the laboratory). The laboratory is required to take a picture of this as third-party validation of what was analyzed (i.e. the result was obtained on material taken from the same container shown in the picture). You cannot sub-sample and take a picture yourself for a product applied for as a retail product. You must send the product in its final consumer packaging. There is no self-declaration option for retail product sub-sampling.

The client should ensure that the products to be sent can be safely disposed of in the state of Florida. For example, bleach is okay, but certain solvents are not okay. If there is a doubt, please consult the laboratory before submitting the sample. If you would like to sub-sample a retail product before submitting it to the laboratory, please consult the USDA BioPreferred Program.

After you have reached the stage of signing a contract (the Participant Agreement), the USDA BioPreferred Program will instruct you to contact Beta to discuss the details of the analysis (including appropriate quantity to send and where to send it).

Required Containers

Required Containers

Use Ziploc bags

1 mL glass micro-sample vial with a crimp top that has a Teflon-lined septum. The vial should only be ¼ – ½ full. See Beta’s infographic.

Other examples of vials you may use are found here. Please make sure that the seal of your vials are tight and that the vials are wrapped properly to prevent breakage during shipment.

Please make sure the vials have chemically non-reactive seals, e.g. made of a silicone disk with one or two teflon faces. If you use low-volume screw top vials like the amber one above, make sure they have a non-reactive cap liner made from silicone and teflon or some other chemically non-reactive material.

Do not use vials that have caps lined with a piece of cardboard with an Aluminum-foil face on one side. The cardboard side is glued to the cap. These are not suitable for fuels or other volatile liquids as the vapors can dissolve the glue and contaminate the sample during shipment. The clear snap caps are also not typically recommended for fuels.

NOTE: If the sample contains VOCs, the vial should be full (no head space).

3. Ship samples to Miami or a forwarding facility near you

lab recommendation

Beta’s complete address and list of forwarding facilities

When sending directly to Miami, please use this label for customs declaration:
“Carbon NCM Number 2803.00 – for scientific study – to be destroyed entirely during the analysis – no commercial value.”
Customs and carriage value: 1 USD
Harmonized Tariff Number (HS code) – 280300

Please make sure that the shipping company you choose takes full responsibility to clear the package with US customs when sending samples directly to the US. You are welcome to contact us for shipping advice.

Beta has forwarding offices in the UK, Europe, China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. For shipping instructions to one of our international forwarding offices, contact us before sending your samples.

reminder icon

Beta is not responsible for the clearance or transportation costs of international shipments not sent through one of our forwarding offices. Shipments arranged through a freight forwarder must be sent under DDP terms. The shipper is responsible for handling the administrative requirements to release the shipment.

reminder icon

All hazardous materials (containing combustible elements) must adhere to International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations; details can be found in the Fedex Packaging Dangerous Goods section.

reminder icon

We will email you to confirm the safe arrival of your samples in Miami and to quote a delivery date for the results. Our quoted turnaround time starts following the day we receive your samples in Miami, excluding weekends. Samples received after the 3 PM EST cut-off time are logged on the next business day.

For reliable, accurate and fast biobased testing solutions, choose Beta Analytic.

Interested in FREE webinars available on demand?

Biobased Testing & The USDA BioPreferred® Program
Biobased Testing, USDA BioPreferred Program, and Case Studies
Free Webinar on the BioPreferred program co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Page last updated: February 2024