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USDA ‘BioPreferred’ Label Intended for Retail Shelves

bioA new federal ‘BioPreferred” label would give marketers of certain products – those composed “wholly or significantly of renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials” – a new way to present their products on retail shelves. Additionally, companies using the items in their operations might be able to claim a certain level of environmental stewardship.

The voluntary label program, proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture, could apply to up to 15,000 products already on the market. USDA is taking comments on the proposal, which was published recently in the Federal Register, until Sept. 29.

USDA has set up a BioPreferred catalog on its Web site. The catalog covers the following categories:

  • Building Materials
  • Construction and Road Maintenance
  • Furniture and Furnishings
  • Housewares and Cleaning
  • Kitchen and Break Room Supplies
  • Industrial Supplies
  • Landscaping and Agriculture
  • Office Supplies
  • Shipping and Packaging
  • Personal Care and Toiletries
  • The Great Outdoors

Beneath these, there are more than 200 subcategories, according to a press release (PDF).

The BioPreferred program has its roots as a preferred procurement program within the federal government. Designed to boost purchases and use of bio-based products, it was a result of the 2002 Farm Bill.

The 2008 Farm Bill called for expanding the program’s scope to promote the sale of biobased products in other sectors.

USDA plans to create a “distinctive label” that can be applied to qualified products. The above label has been used in materials to promote the concept so far.

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