USDA Proposes 20 Biobased Product Categories for Federal Purchases

August 23, 2006

A program to require the federal government to give preference to buying biobased products is hitting its stride, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed 20 new categories of biobased products for federal purchase. The USDA proposed rules, published in two separate rounds in the Federal Register on August 17th, would include the following categories of biobased products: adhesive and mastic removers, insulating foam for wall construction, hand cleaners and sanitizers, composite panels, fluid-filled transformers, biodegradable containers, fertilizers, metalworking fluids, sorbents, graffiti and grease removers, two-cycle engine oils, lip care products, biodegradable films, stationary equipment hydraulic fluids, biodegradable cutlery, glass cleaners, greases, dust suppressants, carpets, and carpet and upholstery cleaners. According to the USDA, these 20 categories will open the door for federal procurement of 1,500 biobased products. Comments on the proposed rules are due on October 16th. See the USDA press release and the Round 2 and Round 3 proposals on the Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program Web site.

Biobased products generally replace items produced from petroleum, so they can potentially reduce our nation's petroleum dependence. They often have environmental benefits as well. The USDA previously named six categories of products in a rule that became final in March, and within a year of that date, federal agencies must give preference to biobased products when buying items that fall within those six categories. The USDA's current catalog of biobased products lists 93 products under these six categories. See the online catalog.