Over 2,300 biobased products added for preferred federal purchasing

Jun 8, 2012

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the proposed addition of 12 biobased product categories to become eligible for federal procurement preference. Once the proposed rule is finalized, more than 2,300 additional biobased products will be offered for preferred purchasing consideration by all federal government agencies and contractors.

Biobased products are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients—renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. A Bio- Preferred designated item is one that meets or exceeds USDA-established minimum biobased content requirements.

BioPreferred is comprised of a preferred procurement program for federal agencies and a voluntary labeling program for the broad scale marketing of biobased products (under development).

On Sept. 14, 1998, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13101— “Greening the Government through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition.” In that order, it states that “agencies shall comply with executive branch policies for the acquisition and use of environmentally preferable products and services and implement cost-effective procurement programs favoring the purchase of these products and services.”

“Environmentally preferable” was defined as “products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.”

This order was the beginning of the development of a biobased list. A biobased product was defined as “commercial or industrial product (other than food or feed) that utilizes biological products or renewable domestic agriculture (plant, animal, and marine) or forestry materials.”

On May 13, 2002, President Bush signed the current Farm Bill. Included in the Farm Bill is a law requiring federal agencies to purchase biobased products, unless there is a price, performance, or availability reason not to do so. On government purchases over $10,000, section 9002 of this act requires federal agencies to give preference to procurement items with the highest percentage of biobased content practical, while maintaining a consistent level of competition.

Under the federal procurement preference program, USDA designates categories of biobased products. Federal agencies and their contractors are then required to give preferential consideration to these designated product categories when making purchases.

As a part of this process of designating product categories for the program, USDA establishes the minimum biobased content for the category. Information on the technical, health, and environmental characteristics of these products are considered.

According to Vilsack, President Obama is pushing for an increase in the volume of biobased purchases over the next two years to help create jobs and increase biobased opportunities.

“With these 12 additional categories, more than 2,300 biobased products will be available for government procurement and USDA will have increased the number of designated categories by 39 percent overall since the issuance of the president’s memorandum. When procuring agencies buy biobased products, they are helping their organizations increase energy security and independence, spur economic development, and improve our environment,” Vilsack said.

The proposed rule designates the following biobased products for preferred federal procurement:

• agricultural spray adjuvants

• animal cleaning products

• deodorants

• dethatcher products

• fuel conditioners

• leather, vinyl, and rubber care products

• lotions and moisturizers

• shaving products

• specialty precision cleaners and solvents

• sun care products

• wastewater systems coatings

• water clarifying agents

The proposed rule will be out for public comment for 60 days and can be read at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-06-05/pdf/2012-13340.pdf. Comments will be considered and incorporated, and a final rule will be publicized shortly thereafter.

Please contact biopre ferred@usda.gov for more information about the Round 9 final rule or the BioPreferred program.

A complete list and detailed description of each BioPreferred designated item, and items for future designation, can be found at www.biopreferred.gov; or follow BioPreferred at http:// twitter.com/BioPreferred — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor