What Is USDA BioPreferred?
Bioplastics are a hot topic in the packaging industry today. Plastic materials sourced from soy, corn and agricultural waste are currently being used for a wide range of products and packaging - from car parts to shampoo bottles. These innovative materials are being developed to help reduce the use of oil-based plastics and create a safer, more sustainable environment.
About the BioPreferred Program
The USDA BioPreferred program works to promote the purchase and use of these advanced products. Not only does the promotion of bio-based products and packaging help improve the environment, but they also can help create more jobs and provide new markets for farm commodities. The BioPreferred program includes a product labeling initiative that increases consumer awareness - letting the buyer know that the USDA has approved a certain product or package, and reducing the possibility of "greenwashing" or false information.
Manufacturers and vendors with bio-based products or packaging can apply for a USDA Certified BioPreferred Label. There is a standard established by the USDA that states the minimum of bio-based content required within a product, according to category, in order to be certified.
A Closer Look at Bioplastics
Bioplastic packaging solutions can be sourced from starches, cane sugar, vegetable oil and other renewable resources. Biodegradable bioplastics can be thrown into compost bins for safe disposal, while oil-based plastics often litter the earth's landfills and oceans for many years without breaking down.
Examples of bioplastics in today's market include Coca-Cola and PepsiCo's plant-based bottles, Proctor & Gamble's sugar cane based Pantene shampoo bottles, and starch-based packing peanuts that can be dissolved in water and added to compost piles.