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What is a "biobased" product?

Biobased products are defined by the Farm Bill (2002) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as "commercial or industrial goods (other than food or feed) composed in whole or in significant part of biological products, forestry materials, or renewable domestic agricultural materials, including plant, animal, or marine materials."

Products are certified biobased through the USDA BioPreferred program (www.biopreferred.gov). The biobased content of a certified product is determined by radiocarbon dating according to a standardized method(ASTM D6886) performed by an accredited third party lab. Once results are approved by the USDA and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), a "USDA Certified Biobased Product" label is issued to the manufacturer.

Biobased products do not include motor vehicle fuels, heating oil or electricity produced from biomass. Mature market products (products that had significant national market penetration in 1972), like cotton shirts or towels, paper plates, and wood furniture, are excluded from the program by law.

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