WHAT IS BIO-BASED?Depending who you ask that question of, you may get different answers.
The general definition of bio-based as defined by the 2002 Farm Bill, is commercial or industrial products (not including food or feed) that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products, renewable agricultural materials (including plant, animal and marine materials), or forestry materials. Typically these products should have a minimum of 25% bio-based content.
The USDA BioPreferred program expands this definition. The USDA created different product category definitions, assigning the minimum percentage of bio-based content needed within a product to qualify as being bio-based or BioPreferred for that product category.
Their definition further details that the bio-based content of a product is the amount of carbon in the product that comes from a renewable plant, animal or marine resource. That biological carbon further must not be petroleum derived. Following these guidelines the bio-based products are more environmentally friendly, typically more biodegradable, and have lower disposal costs than the petroleum products they are meant to replace.
As the USDA BioPreferred program continues with its implementation, producers can list themselves in a general USDA catalog for products that comply based on the definitions set forth. They can also now go a step further and invest in BioPreferred labeling to help make these products more easily identifiable for those procuring the products.