On August 22, 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (“USDA”) proposed revision of the USDA's Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement went into effect and added additional items to the USDA designated items list.


The Biobased Product Program is designed to increase the federal government’s purchase and use of biobased products. Under the Program, USDA designates categories of biobased products. Federal agencies and their contractors are then required to give preferential consideration to those designated product categories (i.e. designated items) when making purchases.

Additions to the List

To date, there have been seven rounds of additions to the designated item list. The most recent round added the following 14 designated biobased items:

  • Animal repellents                                                  Erosion control materials ·        
  • Bath products                                                         Floor cleaners and protectors ·        
  • Bio-remediation materials                                  Hair care products ·        
  • Compost activators and accelerators               Interior paints and coatings ·        
  • Concrete and asphalt cleaners                         Oven and grill cleaners ·        
  • Cuts, burns, and abrasions ointments            Slide way lubricants ·        
  • Dishwashing products                                       Thermal shipping containers

Since the USDA has designated the items as preferred for procurement, a manufacturer of one of these products may claim that status for its product. To do so, the product must be within one of the designated items and must contain at least the minimum biobased content established for the designated item. See 76 Fed. Reg. 43808 for the minimum biobased content for each of the above designated items.

A manufacturer of one of the above designated items may post information on its qualifying product on the USDA’s BioPreferred Web site. Federal agencies will be able to visit the website to determine the availability of a qualifying biobased product and to potentially purchase that item.

The USDA continues to add items to its list. On September 14, 2011, the USDA proposed an additional 13 categories: air fresheners and deodorizers; asphalt and tar removers; asphalt restorers; blast media; candles and wax melts; electronic components cleaners; floor coverings (non-carpet); foot care products; furniture cleaners and protectors; inks; packaging and insulating materials; pneumatic equipment lubricants; and wood and concrete stains. See 76 Fed. Reg. 56884 (September 14, 2011). USDA will accept public comments on this proposed rule until November 14, 2011.