Going green, it’s easier than it looks

Consumers and businesses now have an easier way to “go green." Thanks to the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, the BioPreferred program was created, which helps to increase the purchase and use of environmentally friendly, biobased products.

Biobased products are commercial or industrial products that are composed mainly of biological resources including agriculturally derived, renewable resources such as corn or soybeans.

Managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the BioPreferred program includes a preferred-procurement program for federal agencies and their contractors, as well as a voluntary labeling program for the broad-scale consumer marketing of biobased products.

This program designates biobased products that are required for purchase by federal agencies and their contractors. This allows companies to purchase biopreferred versions of the items that they already use. Soon, biobased products that meet the BioPreferred program requirements will be given a label to make it easily identifiable for businesses and consumers to select these items.

There is a software tool available to help federal procurement officers choose what products are both good for the environment and affordable, BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability). The BEES tool used by the USDA also helps biobased manufacturers learn about the impact that their products have on the environment and on their costs.

In an article by CM Magazine, Ron Buckhalt, program manager for BioPreferred discussed the labeling program. He stated that the labeling program would have green-eligible products stamped with an approved USDA label, much like the Energy Star system for electronics. The eligibility hasn’t been determined at this point. Buckhalt said that whatever the product’s bio-component level is it should be the industry standard.

“Companies don’t have the capability to go too high (regarding the product’s bio-component), but we could be looking at 30 percent,” he said.

Each month, BioPreferred features an item to promote. For March, the BioLink™ General Purpose Cleaner is highlighted for being “tough on grime, not the environment.” Working as effective as traditional cleaners, BioLink exchanges alcohol and petroleum-based solvents for non-toxic biobased materials.

There are numerous biobased products, from cleaning supplies to office supplies that consumers and businesses can use to better their environment. For the complete catalog, please visit: http://www.catalog.biopreferred.gov.

Ohio recently became the first and only state to initiate this program.

Recently, Gov. Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 131, which establishes a bioproducts-preferred purchasing program. Modeled after the federal program, it will allow the state to use considerable purchasing power to support the growth of businesses that create bioproducts, as well as expand the market for other innovative products made from Ohio crops.

S.B. 131 will rely on the federal bioproducts list to determine what products should get preference in Ohio. Several Ohio companies are already developing plastics, paints, polymer foam and other innovative products from corn, soybeans and other renewable materials.

In a recent Marion Star article, Karen Gillmor, R-Tiffin, who sponsored S.B. 131, talked about how this bill would help stimulate investment and jobs, as well as enhance research opportunities at Ohio colleges and universities. This would help Ohio farmers and agriculture production in Ohio.

“Thanks to recent advances in research and technology, acres of soybeans, corn and other agriculture resources growing across Ohio have the tremendous potential to transform our state into a center for bioproducts development in this country, breathe much-needed life into our economy and create a market for good-paying jobs in our local communities,” said Gillmor, who is also a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

What are your thoughts about the BioPreferred program? Should more states be following in Ohio’s footsteps? How can the agriculture industry use this legislation to its advantage?

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