What is BioPreferred?

About the BioPreferred® Program

Managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the goal of the BioPreferred Program is to increase the purchase and use of biobased products. The BioPreferred Program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized and expanded as part of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill). The program's purpose is to spur economic development, create new jobs and provide new markets for farm commodities. The increased development, purchase, and use of biobased products reduces our nation's reliance on petroleum, increases the use of renewable agricultural resources, and contributes to reducing adverse environmental and health impacts.

The two major parts of the program are:

  • mandatory purchasing requirements for federal agencies and their contractors; and,
  • a voluntary labeling initiative for biobased products.

While the BioPreferred Program does not provide financial support for its participants, USDA's Rural Development agency offers loan and grant programs that may be applicable. For more information, please click here.

About Mandatory Federal Purchasing

Federal law, the Federal Acquisition Regulation, and Presidential Executive Orders direct that all federal agencies purchase biobased products in categories identified by the Department of Agriculture (USDA). To date, USDA has identified 139 categories (e.g. cleaners, carpet, lubricants, paints) of biobased products for which agencies and their contractors have purchasing requirements. Each mandatory purchasing category specifies the minimum biobased content for products within the category. The BioPreferred Program provides acquisition tools, the BioPreferred Catalog and training resources to assist in meeting biobased purchasing requirements.

About Voluntary Labeling Initiative

As consumers consider purchasing options with sustainable attributes, USDA wants to make it easy for consumers to identify biobased products. The USDA Certified Biobased Product label, displayed on a product certified by USDA, is designed to provide useful information to consumers about the biobased content of the product.

A business with a biobased product that meets USDA criteria may apply for certification, allowing them to display the USDA Certified Biobased Product label on the product. This label assures a consumer that the product contains a verified amount of renewable biological ingredients (referred to as biobased content). Consumers can trust the label to mean what it says because manufacturer's claims concerning the biobased content are third-party certified and strictly monitored by USDA.

What Are Biobased Products?

Biobased products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials and provide an alternative to conventional petroleum derived products. Biobased products include diverse categories such as lubricants, cleaning products, inks, fertilizers, and bioplastics. For the purposes of the BioPreferred Program, biobased products do not include food, animal feed, or fuel. This document provides more information about biobased content and how it is determined. Products participating in the voluntary labelling initiative have their biobased content measured using ASTM D6866 as part of the certification process.

Containing renewable plant, marine, and forestry-based resources not derived from petroleum.
Biobased Content
A ratio of a product's new organic carbon to total organic carbon, as measured by a standard test method (ASTM D6866). Biobased content is expressed as a percentage. New organic carbon is derived from plants and other renewable agricultural materials. Total organic carbon consists of new organic carbon and old organic carbon (which originates from petroleum). The presence of new organic carbon is an important attribute in a product's sustainability footprint.
Biobased Products
Biobased Products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials. Biobased products generally provide an alternative to conventional petroleum derived products and include a diverse range of offerings such as lubricants, detergents, inks, fertilizers, and bioplastics.
Percent Biobased Content
The ratio of new organic carbon to total organic carbon in a product. New organic carbon is derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials. Total organic carbon consists of new organic carbon and old organic carbon, which originates from petroleum.
Qualified Biobased Product
Meets the requirements for one or more product categories identified by USDA as part of the federal government procurement preference program.
An inexhaustible resource, readily replaced. In the context of biobased products, renewable resources includes agricultural, forestry, and marine resources such as algae.
USDA Certified Biobased Product
Has achieved third-party verification of biobased content and has earned USDA certification and approval to display the label.