In an effort to raise consumer recognition of biobased products, the USDA’s BioPreferred program has implemented a product certification and labeling system. Now underway for nearly a month, the labeling system allows manufacturers and distributors to voluntarily apply the label to help clearly identify qualifying biobased products.
The new label indicates that the product has been certified to meet USDA standards for a prescribed amount of biobased content. Biobased products are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients—renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. The USDA has not certified any biobased products at this time, but expects to see products begin to bear the new label this spring or summer. Products on which you might find the label include cleaning products, personal care products, linens and apparel.
“Today’s consumers are increasingly interested in making educated purchasing choices for their families,” says Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “This label will make those decisions easier by identifying products as biobased. These products have enormous potential to create green jobs in rural communities, add value to agricultural commodities, decrease environmental impacts and reduce our dependence on imported oil.”
Through implementation of the BioPreferred program, USDA has already designated approximately 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by federal agencies. The new label will make identification of these products easier for federal buyers and will increase awareness of these high-value products in other markets. USDA estimates that 20,000 biobased products currently are being manufactured in the United States and that the growing industry as a whole is responsible for more than 100,000 jobs.
With the launch of the USDA biobased-product label, the BioPreferred program now comprises two parts: a biobased-product procurement preference program for federal agencies and a voluntary labeling initiative for the broad-scale marketing of biobased products. The goal of BioPreferred, a market-development program, is to create new jobs for farmers, manufacturers and vendors and to provide new markets for farm commodities.
USDA’s BioPreferred program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill to increase the purchase and use of biobased products within the federal government and the commercial market. Congress reauthorized and strengthened the program in the 2008 Farm Bill to further promote the sale of biobased products.