USDA unveils label for biobased products
Get ready to see another ecolabel on store shelves.
This one’s coming to you courtesy of the feds. On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the first products that will bear its new ecolabel for biobased products through its BioPreferred products program.
Specifically, the products will boast a seal reading “USDA Certified Biobased,” along with a percentage of the amount of biobased material in the product.
"When consumers see the BioPreferred label in a store, they'll know that the product or its packaging is made from renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials," USDA deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan said in a statement.
Thursday’s announcement – which comes as another government agency, the Federal Trade Commission, is tightening its guidelines about how companies make environmental claims – included 60 products. They range from cleaning products and food packaging to carpet fibers and motor oil from about a dozen companies, including Seventh Generation and DuPont.
The new label is an extension of the agency’s BioPreferred program, which was established in 2002 and expanded in 2008 to drive the use of biobased products within the federal government. The agency has compiled a list of more than 5,000 biobased products in about 50 categories, from hand soap to firearm lubricants. The program requires federal agencies and contractors to give preferential consideration to those products when making their purchasing decisions.
The agency announced the product labeling program in January and has so far fielded applications from about 100 companies for about 400 different products. To get certified, products must apply to the USDA and get tested by an independent accredited laboratory, verifying that they meet a minimum amount of biobased ingredients based on the agency's product categories. For example, bathroom cleaners must contain at least 74 percent biobased content, while upholstery cleaners need only be 54 percent biobased.
Products that don't fall into any of the agency's categories must be at least 25 percent biobased to earn the seal.