The U.S. Department of Energy gives preference to products containing biobased content along with other environmental attributes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) designates which products are to be purchased with biobased content. Once USDA designates an item, the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRI) Section 9002 requires that any procuring agency, when using appropriated Federal funds to procure that item, shall purchase it with the specified weight of biobased materials (7 CFR 2902). To find USDA designated products, check out the USDA BioPreferred catalog.
The FSRI Section 9002 requirement is that 100 percent of the purchases of the designated products shall meet or exceed the USDA guideline standards unless written justification is provided that a product is 1) not available competitively within a reasonable time frame, 2) does not meet appropriate performance standards, or 3) is only available at an unreasonable price. Within the U.S. Department of Energy, these justified exceptions are informally referred to as the CAP: cost, availability, performance. One further justification is if a product is designated to contain both biobased as well as recycled content and is not available with both, the recycled content preference takes precedence.
In addition to giving preference to USDA designated biobased products, DOE encourages the purchase of any biobased product that meets national and DOE site specifications, especially those whose content displaces petroleum. This early adopter practice aligns with DOE's mission of energy security.
Each Federal agency and contractor is required to establish a purchasing program for biobased products. The program must have three components:
- Preference - a policy and specification embedded in the purchasing systems
- Promotion - an initial awareness raising campaign, training, and information resources readily available to all staff
- Review and Reporting - an evaluation of the program annually to identify and overcome obstacles to purchasing biobased products and to report on the purchases
The benefits of purchasing biobased products are numerous. See also the biobased success stories at DOE sites.