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USDA Awards First Biobased Product Labels
6 years, 3 months ago Posted in: Industry News 0

By Dan Hockensmith | PLASTICS NEWS STAFF

GLENWILLOW, OHIO (March 31, 1:15 p.m. ET) — Three plastics industry firms are among the first 11 U.S. companies to receive the Department of Agriculture’s new Certified Biobased Product label for their products.

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan made the announcements at a biobased product meeting held March 31 in Glenwillow Ohio, near Cleveland, where 60 products certified under USDA’s BioPreferred program were unveiled.

Clear Lam Packaging Inc., NatureWorks LLC and DuPont Co. will be able to use the new labeling for thermoformed produce containers, Ingeo polylactic acid resin and Sorona biodegradable copolyester resin, respectively, said Kate Lewis, deputy manager of the BioPreferred program, in a March 31 telephone interview.

The new USDA label, launched in January, indicates that a product has been independently certified to meet BioPreferred standards for biobased content. Certification, which is done according to the ASTM International D6866 standard, typically takes two months, Lewis said.

The BioPreferred program was created under the 2002 federal farm bill as a means to increase the purchase and use of biobased products by the U.S. government. Congress reauthorized and strengthened the program in the 2008 farm bill to further promote the widespread sale of biobased products in the United States. The program will go for reauthorization again in 2012.

The USDA estimates that there are 20,000 biobased products currently being manufactured in the United States.

“We’re proud to achieve this important distinction … as it will bring greater clarity to the marketplace and spur more leading product manufacturers and consumers to embrace materials that reduce adverse environmental impacts,” James Sanfilippo, Clear Lam’s president and CEO, said in a March 31 news release.

According to Clear Lam, the thermoformed containers are produced from over 93 percent plant-based bioplastics derived from Ingeo PLA, along with ingredients that add performance characteristics such as enhanced impact and temperature resistance. The materials are part of Clear Lam’s Project EarthClear program, which replaces petroleum-based plastics with biobased materials.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. uses the Clear Lam thermoformed produce packaging for its private label Marketside brand.

In addition to the thermoformed produce containers that will carry the new USDA label, Clear Lam has applied for BioPreferred certification for four of its flexible and rigid packaging lines for condiments, salty snacks, and dairy products such as cottage cheese, Clear Lam spokeswoman Mary Brophy said in a March 31 telephone interview.

All 25 grades of Ingeo plant-based resin will carry the Certified Biobased Product label, Steve Davies, global marketing director for NatureWorks LLC in Minnetonka, Minn., said in a March 31 phone interview.

“Our focus has been decidedly on the commercial market, on folks like Clear Lam and their customers like Wal-Mart and Stonyfield [Farm], and what’s been lacking in the commercial market has been one [biobased certification] label from an authoritative third-party source.

“Everybody gets the biobased value proposition but doesn’t know how to communicate it. This will be the analogue to the USDA organic label on food. To us, this says that biobased, going forward, is going to be the expectation, not the exception [in materials],” he said.

Officials at Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont were unavailable for comment.

The Agriculture Department has designated 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by federal agencies. With the launch of the Certified Biobased Product label, the BioPreferred program is now comprised of two parts: a procurement preference program for Federal agencies and a voluntary labeling initiative for commercial marketing of biobased products.

According to the BioPreferred program website, biobased products already identified within existing product categories under the federal procurement portion of the BioPreferred program must meet the minimum biobased content of their category.

Products that do not fall within a pre-identified category must be 25 percent biobased, unless the applicant receives an alternative minimum biobased content allowance.

So-called “mature market products” — those that had a significant market share in 1972, such as cotton t-shirts — which are excluded from the federal procurement preference program, are also excluded from BioPreferred product certification and labeling.

Applicants to the BioPreferred program are required to submit products for testing by an accredited laboratory, and provide current information about their products, company contact information, and associated product websites.

“From bioplastics to plant-based cleaners, from industrial lubricants and construction products to personal care items, this ever-growing list of biobased products helps create jobs in rural communities by adding value to agricultural commodities and can reduce our dependence on imported oil,” the USDA’s Merrigan said in a March 31 news release.

Companies receiving the Certified Biobased Product label March 31 included Clear Lam, DuPont and NatureWorks; Nutek Green, a division of appliance manufacturer Hoover Inc.; cleaning products manufacturers Rochester Midland Corp., Seventh Generation and Betco Corp.; waterproofing chemicals manufacturer ElastiKote; lubrication products manufacturers Bio-Lub and Green Earth Technologies; and the National Industries for the Blind Agencies.


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