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USDA BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Program

  • USDA BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Program final rule is effective February 22, 2011
  • The program, applicable to both domestic and imported products, requires ASTM D6866 certification from an ISO 9001 conformant laboratory.
  • Beta Analytic, an ISO 9001 conformant lab that has contributed to the development of ASTM D6866, provides biobased content testing.
  • ISO/IEC 17025:2005-accredited Beta Analytic is not affiliated with the USDA BioPreferred Program. However, you are welcome to contact the lab on how to submit samples for testing as part of the Biopreferred Voluntary Labeling Program.

Click for USDA Minimum Biobased Content list

Note to all Applicants – Make sure your Biobased Participant Agreement with ASTM has been signed and accepted. If you obtain an analysis prior to acceptance, ASTM will not accept the result even if you have an application number provided by the USDA. Please read the USDA Biopreferred Labeling Process Fact Sheet before submitting samples to the lab.

Intermediate Products – If you have listed your material on the USDA application as an intermediate product, it is okay to sub-sample and deliver in any packaging appropriate for the material. Our laboratory will take a picture once we receive the sample. “Intermediate” is a raw material which is sold then modified or used in making a “retail” product which is then purchased by the consumer.

Retail Products – If you have listed your material on the USDA application as a retail product, please send a sample in its retail packaging (usually the smallest available). “Retail” is defined as a product that is purchased directly by the consumer or is a packaging used “as-is” to contain a product purchased by the consumer. 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). If you would like to sub-sample a retail product before submitting it to the laboratory, please consult the USDA. We can receive a maximum of 25 grams or 25 mL per sample. If your product is bigger, please contact ASTM to obtain approval for sub-sampling before the sample is submitted for testing.

Beta Analytic can only accept samples that can be disposed of legally by pouring down the drain or throwing in the garbage in the state of Florida. Please consult the laboratory before sending your samples.

Beta Analytic’s detailed reminders for label applicants are found here. A tutorial on Label Application is found in the USDA website.

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USDA BioPreferred Program requires ASTM Method D6866The Voluntary Labeling Program aims to aid consumers in identifying commercially available biobased products. Under this program, successful applicants (manufacturers and vendors) can affix a distinctive USDA label on their goods and marketing materials as long as their products meet the BioPreferred program’s requirements. The minimum biobased content has been established under the USDA’s BioPreferred Federal Procurement Preference Program. Products that do not belong to the existing categories under the federal procurement program are still eligible if they are at least 25% biobased. The minimum biobased content for all items are subject to change. The USDA intends to increase the minimum biobased content over time as biobased product technologies advance.

According to the USDA, biobased products are commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products, renewable agricultural materials (including plant, animal, and marine materials), or forestry materials as per the 2002 Farm Bill. The 2008 Farm Bill extended the definition of biobased products to include biobased intermediate ingredients or feedstocks.

biobased products in usda biopreferred catalog
As of June 2018, there are three groups of biobased products in the BioPreferred Program: Certified-only (they do not fit into one of the 97 categories qualified for mandatory federal purchasing but have gone through the BioPreferred Program’s certification process), Qualified-only (they fall under one of the product categories but have not gone through the program’s certification process), Qualified/Certified (they belong in one of the product categories AND have gone through the program’s certification process) 

ASTM Method D6866 Required

Other than product information, applicants are required to submit ASTM D6866 test results as evidence of the product’s biobased content and documentation of the testing lab’s ISO 9001 conformance. Applicants must also provide the USDA with the product’s brand names, contact information, and Web site URL (if available).

The USDA intends to conduct occasional random ASTM D6866 testing on certified products to ensure compliance to minimum biobased content requirements.

MULTIPLE PRODUCTS – For products with similar biobased content but slightly different formulations, the USDA allows representative biobased content testing to suffice if the product formulation does not vary by more than 3 percent.

BIOPREFERRED CATALOG PRODUCTS – Products already part of the BioPreferred federal procurement program need to be re-tested for biobased content via ASTM D6866 except those that were tested between February 20, 2010, and February 20, 2011, by an approved third-party laboratory. Applicants with products tested for biobased content between this period should disclose such information in the “Legacy Tests” section of the online application (BioPreferred Website). They also need to complete an additional form provided by the USDA via email. The USDA will obtain test results directly from the lab and will continue the application review process.

The USDA BioPreferred Label

The USDA label consists of an artwork, the biobased content percentage, and either of these three text variations: USDA Certified Biobased Product, USDA Certified Biobased Product: Package, or USDA Certified Biobased Product and Package. The letters “FP” appear on the artwork of labels for products that are also part of the Federal Procurement Preference Program.

The Voluntary Labeling Program is also applicable to products imported for sale in the U.S. as long as they meet the same criteria as U.S.-sourced biobased products. Even if they are considered to be biobased in their countries of origin, these imported products will carry the label only if they meet specific USDA criteria.

There is no specified deadline for application submissions. Applications to the Voluntary Labeling Program are evaluated on a first-come-first-serve basis. Companies can only use the label on the biobased product identified in their application when they receive the notice of certification from the USDA. Rejected applicants can submit revised applications for reconsideration.

Certification remains valid only if the certified product complies with the required minimum biobased content. If the USDA revises the required minimum levels, the certified product must meet the new requirement to continue using the label.

Source: Voluntary Labeling Program for Biobased Products (Final Rule), Federal Register Vol. 76 No. 13 Pages 3790-3813 Published January 20, 2011

USDA Minimum Biobased Content

The following is a list of the USDA’s designated items and their required minimum biobased content as of November 2017.
Source: USDA BioPreferred Website

BioPreferred’s Two Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has two systems under its BioPreferred Program—a procurement program for federal agencies and a voluntary labeling program for consumer marketing purposes. Created by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (2002 Farm Bill) and expanded by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill), the BioPreferred Program aims to increase consumption of biobased products in the United States.

Beta Analytic: The Leader in ASTM Method D6866

Beta Analytic joined the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) Subcommittee D20.96 as co-author of ASTM D6866 for biobased content analysis. The standard, adopted in July 2004, is an industrial application of radiocarbon dating. ASTM D6866-04, ASTM D6866-04a, ASTM D6866-05, ASTM D6866-06, ASTM D6866-06a, ASTM D6866-08, ASTM D6866-10, ASTM D6866-11, ASTM D6866-12 and ASTM D6866-16 are older versions of the standard. The current active version is ASTM D6866-18. The method is mentioned in the USDA BioPreferred Program as “ASTM Method D6866.”

The Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) at Iowa State University of Science and Technology, with the USDA at the helm, help established the required minimum biobased content for the BioPreferred Program. By June 2004, Beta Analytic has analyzed more than 200 biobased products for CIRAS and delivered the results within 1-3 weeks. ISO 9001 conformant Beta Analytic has proven to be a reliable service provider over the years.

Beta Analytic provides biobased content testing. The company is not affiliated with the USDA BioPreferred Program.

Related Topics:

Choosing a Qualified Lab for Biobased Content Testing

ASTM Method D6866

Page last updated: June 2018