Within This Page
Biobased products are essential to slowing climate change, constructing and maintaining sustainable buildings, and creating a vibrant rural America. The term "biobased product" means a product determined by the Secretary [of Agriculture] to be a commercial or industrial product (other than food, feed, or fuel) that is:
Composed, in whole or in significant part, of biological products, including renewable domestic agricultural materials, renewable chemicals, and forestry materials; or
An intermediate ingredient or feedstock.
Federal law and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) require federal agencies and federal contractors to purchase biobased products in categories designated by the USDA.
The USDA BioPreferred™ Program, also known as the Biobased Markets Program, was established in the 2002 Farm Bill, and reauthorized in subsequent Farm Bills. The BioPreferred Program's goal is to increase the purchase and use of biobased products, which spurs economic development, creates jobs, reduces the nation's reliance on petroleum, reduces adverse climate and health impacts, and provides new markets for farm commodities.
The BioPreferred Program has two initiatives:
- Federal Purchasing Preference Program for federal agencies and their contractors; and
- A voluntary labeling initiative for biobased products.
This resource page serves as a guide on how to navigate biobased product procurement requirements and how the BioPreferred Program can assist with maximizing biobased product procurement.
A. Biobased Product Purchasing Requirements
Federal law, Presidential Executive Orders, and the FAR direct all federal agencies and federal contractors to purchase biobased products in categories designated by the USDA. The Farm Bills state that federal agencies and federal contractors must give procurement preference to biobased products that are composed of the highest percentage of biobased content practical.
A variety of Presidential Executive Orders give guidance on federal procurement, reinforcing the biobased product purchase requirement. Executive Order 14057, "Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs through Federal Sustainability" focuses specifically on biobased products. This Executive Order requires federal agencies and federal buyers to procure biobased products to reduce environmental damage and climate change. Executive Order 14081, "Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy" bolsters the biobased product procurement requirement by requiring federal agencies to develop a biobased product procurement plan, report all biobased product purchasing, and request the addition of biobased products and categories that are not available.
FAR part 52.223-2, Affirmative Procurement of Biobased Products Under Service and Construction Contracts requires contractors to give preference to biobased products within USDA designated categories when procuring products to complete a contract. This clause also requires contractors to report their biobased product purchasing in the System for Award Management (SAM), which is covered in sections below.
B. Biobased Products Overview
Based on the 2002 Farm Bill, USDA has identified over 130 categories of biobased products for which agencies and their contractors are required to give a purchasing preference. As USDA identifies product categories for mandatory federal purchasing, minimum biobased content is established for the category to qualify for federal purchasing.
Biobased content is measured by dividing the biobased carbon by the total organic carbon, explained here . Products qualifying for preferred federal purchasing must meet the minimum biobased content which is established by USDA.
C. Benefits of Biobased Products
Biobased products offer a more sustainable way to complete federal projects. Some biobased products may be safer for human health and the built environment. Many biobased products are cost-competitive compared to their non-biobased counterparts.
In addition to environmental and health impacts, there are economic benefits of biobased products as demonstrated in the USDA Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry. Biobased product procurement bolsters the American economy, with added benefits to rural America where agricultural commodities become finished products near the farm gate. The bioeconomy was estimated to have added $470 billion to the U.S. economy in 2019. Additionally, the biobased products industry supported 4.6 million U.S. jobs in 2019.
The BioPreferred Program has a vast catalog of over 7,000 products eligible for federal purchasing, allowing contractors and buyers to easily access the brand, names, and biobased content of these eligible products. The BioPreferred Program's catalog is the most comprehensive resource of biobased products available.
Buyers can also access products in the BioPreferred Program catalog through other platforms such as the AbilityOne Program, (General Services Administration) GSA Advantage, and Department of Defense (DoD) FedMall. When using AbilityOne's platform, GSA Advantage, or DoD FedMall, searches can be refined to only show biobased products and their manufacturers. While there are a variety of sites that make it easier to search for biobased products, federal buyers are not limited to buying from these sites. Any biobased products with a biobased content, equal to or greater than the USDA minimum for the applicable category, can be purchased and reported as a biobased product procurement.
E. Construction and Design Categories
Below is a table of some federally designated categories that are useful for the design and construction of buildings.
|Category||Minimum Biobased Content|
|Composite Panels—Structural Wall Panels||94%|
|Erosion Control Materials||77%|
|Exterior Paints and Coatings||83%|
|Floor Covers (non-carpet)||915|
|Graffiti and Grease Removers||34%|
|Interior Paints and Coatings||20%|
|Surface Guards, Molding, and Trim||26%|
|Wood and Concrete Sealers||79%|
The BioPreferred Program's product catalog can be found here and the list of the Program's categories can be found here.
F. Reporting Biobased Purchasing
At the end of every fiscal year, federal service and construction contractors are required to log into SAM.gov and report their biobased product purchases for the fiscal year. Biobased product purchases must be reported by October 31st annually and at the end of the contract.
With more than 130 biobased product categories designated for preferred federal purchasing, finding products that meet construction needs is simple. These products can be incorporated into all stages of a building's lifetime, internally and externally—there are products for construction, groundskeeping, asphalt and concrete maintenance, and renovation. Biobased products can also be used for interior design in buildings. With options encompassing carpeting, wall and ceiling tiles, and paint, biobased products are an available, affordable, and reliable way to complete a buildings' interior design needs. The BioPreferred Program provides the resources and easy access to biobased products for contracting officers and federal contractors to complete their building needs while fulfilling the federal requirement to procure biobased products.
While the BioPreferred Program's catalog is expansive, a federal buyer may not be able to find what they need for their buildings. If there is a category or type of product federal buyers would like to see that is not currently listed in the BioPreferred Program's catalog, a request can be submitted to add it. After receiving a request, BioPreferred Program staff will research biobased products available in that category.
The recognition of biobased products continues to grow nationally as federal biobased product procurement requirements prevail. National Biobased Products Day is recognized every year on March 8th and celebrates the important role biobased products play in mitigating negative climate impacts and how federal procurement can help fuel the bioeconomy in the United States.
Relevant Codes, Standards, and Guidelines
- 2018 Farm Bill: The most recent Farm Bill, which includes the requirement that federal agencies and federal contractors give a purchasing preference to biobased products.
- ASTM D6866: This test method is used by authorized labs to measure the biobased content of solid, liquid, and gas samples. The biobased content displayed for products in the BioPreferred Program catalog is measured using this test method.
- Executive Order 14057: The Executive Order requires federal buyers to purchase biobased products to mitigate climate damage via federal procurement.
- Executive Order 14081: The Executive Order requires federal agencies to develop a biobased product procurement plan, report biobased product purchasing, and suggest new categories and products as needed.
- FAR 52.223-2: The FAR part that requires all federal contractors completing service and construction contracts to use biobased products.
- AbilityOne Program: Users can search AbilityOne for biobased products by typing "biobased" into the search feature. Products that are biobased will have the BioPreferred Program's FP (Federal Procurement) symbol under the "Specifications" tab.
- DoD FedMall: DoD FedMall is an online ordering system for the Department of Defense and other authorized agencies, allowing buyers to search a variety of product types directly from vendors who are registered on the site.
- GSA Advantage: Access many types of diverse biobased products to complete projects and maintain the building environment. When searching for specific products, select the "BioPreferred" label under the Environmental Products search function.
- SAM.gov: Service and construction contractors use SAM.gov to report their biobased spending every fiscal year and can find available contracting opportunities here.