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USDA BioPreferred Program

The United States Department of Agriculture manages the BioPreferred Program – the U.S. government’s initiative to promote the use of biobased products. BioPreferred is composed of two programs – the procurement program for federal agencies and their contractors and the voluntary labeling program, which aims to aid consumers in identifying biobased products available in the market.

Both BioPreferred programs recommend ASTM D6866 product certification. Through this standard, the exact percentage of biobased content of a material is known.

The USDA has set minimum levels of biobased content as requirement for its procurement program, under which federal agencies are required to buy products listed in the USDA BioPreferred Catalog with the highest biobased content as long as they are readily available, they meet performance standards of the federal agencies, and they are reasonably priced.

The voluntary labeling program, still in draft phase, is potentially open to both U.S. and imported products as long as they comply to the criteria set by the USDA. The minimum level of biobased content is the same for those designated items in the procurement program. Products that are not designated items have to be at least 51% biobased for them to be allowed to carry a USDA-approved label, which can be attached on the product’s packaging label as well as in their marketing materials.

For more information, visit the BioPreferred Web site.

Updated June 25, 2010