USDA plans bio-products ecolabeling

While transcribing some of my CEO interviews from the BIO conference, let me post this interesting news from the US Department of Agriculture about their voluntary ecolabeling plans for biobased products.

First of all, the USDA defined “biobased products” as products that are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. The agency has identified more than 15,000 biobased products commercially available to consumers today.

According to the USDA, the ecolabeling program will allow manufacturers to participate in a voluntary labeling program that distinctively identifies those biobased products on store shelves.

“Increasing the purchase and use of biobased products is a priority of the Obama Administration because it helps increase our nation’s energy security and independence by using American agricultural products, while spurring economic development in rural areas,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Consumers want to make more informed product choice decisions and BioPreferred will help them. This label will help consumers, businesses and Federal government purchasers easily identify biobased products.”

Any biobased products that meet USDA minimum biobased content requirements are eligible for the label. These requirements are broken down into two groups:

Products in designated item categories:

These are biobased products that meet the USDA’s percent content standards for the product categories set up by the BioPreferred preferred procurement program. There are 33 designated categories and approximately 3,300 products.

Products not within designated categories:

Biobased products that do not fall into one of the designated item categories must meet a 50% content requirement, unless USDA approves an alternative minimum biobased content.

The USDA said two versions of the label design are proposed, one version will be used for non-designated product and a slightly different version is suggested for designated products. Mature market products (example is cotton clothing) are eligible on a case-by-case basis.

Good news for the renewable-based chemicals producers is that intermediate ingredients and feedstocks, raw materials used for a biobased product, are eligible for the BioPreferred label if the minimum biobased content is 50%, unless USDA approves an alternative minimum biobased content.

The proposed rule for the label was published last week in the Federal Register and is available for the public comment until September 29, 2009.

One Response to USDA plans bio-products ecolabeling

  1. ASTM D6866 1 September, 2009 at 5:07 pm #

    Another interesting thing about this program is that it is applicable to imported goods as long as they comply to USDA requirements on biobased content. The label consists of a logo and a statement indicating the biobased content of the product or its packaging material or both. Interesting to note that the text of this label should be in English only even if the US goods are intended for sale abroad.

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