Farm Act Provides Preferred Procurement for Biobased Products

November 1, 2002

Section 9002 of the Farm Act of 2002 creates a new mandate for Federal procurement of biobased products—commercial or industrial products that are composed, in whole or in significant part, of biological products, renewable domestic agricultural materials, or forestry materials. Federal agencies are to extend procurement preference to items composed of the highest percentage of biobased products practicable.

Section 9002 is the mandatory extension of Executive Order 13101, which encouraged voluntary Federal procurement of biobased products. The new mandate is similar to the approaches followed for recycled-content products and environmentally-preferred products in Executive Order 13101. The mandate requires Federal agencies to:

  • establish a biobased products preference program,
  • create an agency promotion program for biobased products, and
  • annually review and monitor the effectiveness of the preferred procurement program.

Several deadlines apply to the mandate:

  • By November 13, 2002, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) will publish guidelines for procuring agencies to use to comply with the mandate.
  • By May 13, 2003, USDA will issue criteria to determine which products qualify as biobased products.
  • By November 13, 2003, Federal agencies will develop a procurement program that specifies preferred purchases of biobased products.

USDA will issue criteria for the following product categories:

  • absorbents/adsorbents,
  • adhesives,
  • alternative fuels/fuel additives,
  • biolastics/polymers/films,
  • construction materials,
  • inks,
  • landscaping materials,
  • lubricants/functional fluids,
  • paints/coatings,
  • personal consumer items,
  • solvents/cleaners, and
  • tree-free paper and packaging/alternative fibers.

Procurement of motor vehicle fuels and electricity are not subject to the biobased product mandate as these products are already addressed through other regulatory programs. Similarly, for recycled-content products, the biobased-product mandate will impose consistent requirements as those contained in Section 6002 of the Solid Waste Disposal Act.

Ten Federal agencies have formed the "Buy Bio Work Group," whose mission is to streamline the implementation of the preferred biobased product procurement mandate.

For more information, please contact Tom Snyder of DOE's Argonne National Laboratory at 202-488-2419 or tsnyder@anl.gov, or Michael Mills of FEMP at 202-586-6653 or michael.mills@ee.doe.gov.