The U.S. Department of Agriculture has further expanded its BioPreferred Program to include eight new product categories or more than 600 biobased products. Including previously designated items, there are now more than 5,100 biobased products that qualify for preferred purchasing by all federal agencies and their contractors.
The new product categories are disposable tableware, expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam recycling products, heat transfer fluids, ink removers and cleaners, mulch and compost materials, multipurpose lubricants, topical pain relief products, and turbine drip oils. These products are part of the sixth round of item designations first proposed by the USDA in February this year. According to the final rule published in the Federal Register on October 18, 2010, qualifying biobased products that fall under these eight newly designated items shall be given procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors beginning October 18, 2011.
The USDA has already released a list of potential items to be designated under Round 7. The items include animal repellents, bath products, bioremediation materials, compost activators and accelerators, concrete and asphalt cleaners, ointments (for cuts, burns, and abrasions), dishwashing products, erosion control materials, floor cleaners and protectors, hair care products (shampoo and conditioner), interior paints and coatings, lithographic offset inks, oven and grill cleaners, slideway lubricants, and durable and non-durable thermal shipping containers.
The USDA has established the following minimum biobased content as measured via ASTM D6866:
(1) Disposable tableware – 72%
(2) Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam recycling products – 90%
(3) Heat transfer fluids – 89%
(4) Ink removers and cleaners – 79%
(5) Mulch and compost materials – 95%
(6) Multipurpose lubricants – 88%
(7) Topical pain relief products – 91%
(8) Turbine drip oils – 87%
The USDA clarifies that disposable tableware exclude cutlery and must be dish ware or drink ware designed for one-time use and made from or coated with plastic resins. Complete definitions of the eight newly designated items are found in the Federal Register Vol. 75, No. 200.
The biobased content of a product reflects how much of it come from biomass or renewable sources. Biomass and other renewable materials have a known amount of radiocarbon. Fossil inputs, on the other hand, have no radiocarbon. ASTM D6866 testing measures the radiocarbon content of a product and reports results as biobased versus fossil content.
ASTM D6866 services provider Beta Analytic recommends, for better credibility and averaging, two measurements per product if the results will be used for the USDA BioPreferred Program and other certification or ecolabels. For research or product development purposes, one measurement is sufficient. For any kind of product market protection or any purpose that may have commercial or legal repercussions, the company recommends three to four analyses per material.