The US biobased industry contributed $393 billion to the economy in 2014. As consumers become more conscious of renewably sourced products, being able to clearly highlight the biobased content of products can give a competitive edge in the market. The USDA BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Program provides this opportunity. By meeting minimum biobased content requirements set out by the USDA BioPreferred Federal Procurement Program, interested parties can apply for the Voluntary Labeling Program.
The USDA defines biobased products as originating from plants and other renewable materials, including agricultural, forestry and marine materials. Food, feed and fuel are not considered to be biobased products.
As shown in the table, the USDA has many different product categories that are used within office and shipping functions. Each category has a specific definition and an assigned minimum biobased value it needs to meet in order to be eligible for the BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Program. The minimum biobased content values vary with the product category and are subject to change.
To measure the biobased content of the product, the USDA BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Program requires testing according to ASTM D6866, which is a standardized analytical method developed to measure biobased content of solid, liquid or gaseous samples using Carbon-14 analysis. Biobased materials contain a known amount of Carbon-14, whereas fossil fuel based materials do not contain any Carbon-14, and so by measuring the Carbon-14 content the overall biobased content can be determined.
The program originated from the USDA Federal Procurement Program, which was established to encourage federal agencies to procure materials and products with biobased content. The Voluntary Labeling Program is aimed to help consumers make more informed purchases in a more sustainable and renewable conscious market. There are currently 97 product categories detailed by the USDA under the program, which can be divided by their functions.
To apply to the program, applicants must submit all the required product information along with the ASTM D6866 testing results. Successful applications can display the USDA Certified Biobased Label on their products.
ISO/IEC 17025:2017-accredited and ISO 9001 conformant Beta Analytic provides fast high-quality biobased testing according to ASTM D6866 in accordance with the requirements set out by the USDA BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Program.
In 2004, Beta Analytic joined the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) Subcommittee D20.96 as co-author of ASTM D6866 for biobased content analysis. Beta Analytic is not affiliated with ASTM or the USDA BioPreferred Program.
All inquiries about the program should be sent to the USDA. The lab welcomes inquiries on how to submit samples for testing as part of the Biopreferred Voluntary Labeling Program. For inquiries, please contact the lab.
https://www.biopreferred.gov/BioPreferred/faces/pages/articles/EconAnal2016.xhtml (accessed July 2017)
https://www.biopreferred.gov/BioPreferred/faces/pages/ProductCategories.xhtml (accessed July 2017)
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USDA BioPreferred Program – Food Service Products