United States Department of Agriculture

Innovative Criteria

Implementing the Revisions to the USDA BioPreferred® Program Outlined in the Agricultural Act of 2014

The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized and made revisions to the USDA BioPreferred Program, with the purpose of increasing the purchase and use of biobased products.

In establishing the BioPreferred Program in the 2002 Farm Bill, Congress expressed its intent in the legislative history for the program to focus on "new and emerging markets." As a result, USDA excluded "mature market" products (i.e., those with a significant market share in 1972) in the first set of implementing regulations, and in the 2011 regulations establishing the labeling program. An example of a mature market product is office printer paper made from traditional forestry and pulping processes. This product is biobased, but held a substantial portion of the office paper market in 1972.

The 2014 Farm Bill directs USDA to "promote biobased products, including forest products that apply an innovative approach to growing, harvesting, sourcing, procuring, processing, manufacturing, or application of biobased products regardless of the date of entry into the marketplace." Thus, products previously considered to be mature market products are now included in the program if manufacturers demonstrate that they apply an "innovative approach" during the life cycle of their product. The below Criteria for Demonstrating Innovative Approaches is now included in sections 3201 (Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement) and 3202 (Voluntary Labeling Program for Biobased Products) of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Criteria for Demonstrating Innovative Approaches

USDA will consider as eligible only those products that use innovative approaches in the growing, harvesting, sourcing, procuring, processing, manufacturing, or application of the biobased product. USDA will consider products that meet one or more of the criteria below to be eligible for the BioPreferred Program. USDA will monitor this self-validation process on a continuing basis and may exclude from the BioPreferred Program any products whose manufacturers, when requested to do so by USDA, are unable to provide USDA with the documentation necessary to support claims that innovative approaches are used.

(1) Product Application

(A)The product or material is either used or applied in applications that differ from historical applications, as determined by USDA; or

(B)The product or material is grown, harvested, manufactured, processed, sourced, or applied in other innovative ways, as approved by USDA.

(C)The biobased content of the product or material makes its composition different from products or material used for the same historical uses or applications.

(2) Manufacturing and Processing

(A)The product or material is manufactured or processed using renewable, biomass energy or using technology that is demonstrated to increase energy efficiency or reduce reliance on fossil-fuel based energy sources; or

(B)The product or material is manufactured or processed with technologies that ensure high feedstock material recovery and use.

(3) Environmental Product Declaration

The product has a current Environmental Product Declaration as defined by International Standard ISO 14025, Environmental Labels and Declarations – Type III Environmental Declarations - Principles and Procedures.

(4) Raw Material Sourcing

(A)The raw material used in the product is sourced from a Legal Source (see Note below), a Responsible Source, or a Certified Source as designated by ASTM D7612 – 10, Standard Practice for Categorizing Wood and Wood-Based Products According to Their Fiber Sources (material from National Forest System land will be considered as originating from a Responsible Source), or

(B)The raw material used in the product is 100% resourced or recycled (such as material obtained from building deconstruction), or

(C)The raw material used in the product is from an urban environment and is acquired as a result of activities related to a natural disaster, land clearing, right-of-way maintenance, tree health improvement, or public safety

NOTE: In item (A) above, the term "legal source" (also referred to as a "non-controversial source") means that the wood fibers are from jurisdictions with a low risk of illegal activity or from controlled wood standards, stair-step standards, legality assessments, or other proprietary standards. Products from non-controversial sources are traceable to the applicable jurisdiction, or chain of custody. The term "Responsible source" means that the wood fibers are acquired from a legal source utilizing independently certified procurement standards or are from a proprietary forestry standard or from jurisdictions with regulatory or quasi-regulatory programs to implement best management practices. "Certified sources" means wood fiber acquired in accordance with, and independently certified to, an internationally recognized voluntary forest certification standard or equivalent.

Please contact help@usdabiopreferred.net if you have any questions.