On July 22, 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a final rule (referred to as “Round 7”) to add 14 new items to the list of designated biobased items. The items are: animal repellents; bath products; bioremediation materials; compost activators and accelerators; concrete and asphalt cleaners; cuts, burns, and abrasions ointments; dishwashing products; erosion control materials; floor cleaners and protectors; hair care products, including shampoos and conditioners as subcategories; interior paints and coatings; oven and grill cleaners; slide way lubricants; and thermal shipping containers, including durable and non-durable thermal shipping containers as subcategories.  The final rule, as it appeared in the Federal Register notice (76 FR 43808), is viewable here.

Designated items, after receiving final approval from USDA, are afforded a Federal purchasing preference under Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, as amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

Fourteen Items Finalized for Designation (Round 7)

USDA designated the following 14 items along with a minimum biobased content for each item.

Item Minimum Biobased Content
Animal repellents 79%
Bath products 61%
Bioremediation materials 86%
Compost activators and accelerators 95%
Concrete and asphalt cleaners 70%
Cuts, burns, and abrasions ointments 84%
Dishwashing products 58%
Erosion control materials 77%
Floor cleaners and protectors 77%
Hair care products


Interior paints and coatings
Latex and waterborne alkyd paints and coatings
Oil-based and solventborne alkyd paints and coatings


Oven and grill cleaners 66%
Slide way lubricants 74%
Thermal shipping containers



Animal repellents – Products used to aid in deterring animals that cause destruction to plants and/or property.

Bath products – Personal hygiene products including bar soaps, liquids, or gels that are referred to as body washes, body shampoos, or cleansing lotions, but excluding products marketed as hand cleaners and/or hand sanitizers.

Bioremediation materials – Dry or liquid solutions (including those containing bacteria or other microbes but not including sorbent materials) used to clean oil, fuel, and other hazardous spill sites.

Compost activators and accelerators – Products in liquid or powder form designed to be applied to compost piles to aid in speeding up the composting process and to ensure successful compost that is ready for consumer use.

Concrete and asphalt cleaners – Chemicals used in concrete etching as well as to remove petroleum-based soils, lubricants, paints, mastics, organic soils, rust, and dirt from concrete, asphalt, stone and other hard porous surfaces.  Products within this item include only those marketed for use in commercial or residential construction or industrial applications.

Cuts, burns, and abrasions ointments – Products designed to aid in the healing and sanitizing of scratches, cuts, bruises, abrasions, sun damaged skin, tattoos, rashes and other skin conditions.

Dishwashing products – Soaps and detergents used for cleaning and clean rinsing of tableware in either hand washing or dishwashing.

Erosion control materials – Woven or non-woven fiber materials manufactured for use on construction, demolition, or other sites to prevent wind or water erosion of loose earth surfaces, which may be combined with seed and/or fertilizer to promote growth.

Floor cleaners and protectors – Cleaning solutions for either direct application or use in floor scrubbers for wood, vinyl, tile, or similar hard surface floors.  Products within this item are marketed specifically for use on industrial, commercial, and/or residential flooring.

Hair care products – Personal hygiene products specifically formulated for hair cleaning and treating applications, including shampoos and conditioners. Hair care products for which preferred procurement applies are: (i) Shampoos. These are products whose primary purpose is cleaning hair. Products that contain both shampoos and conditioners are included in this subcategory because the primary purpose of these products is cleaning the hair. (ii) Conditioners. These are products whose primary purpose is treating hair to improve the overall condition of hair.

Interior paints and coatings – Pigmented liquids, formulated for use indoors, that dry to form a film and provide protection and added color to the objects or surfaces to which they are applied.  Interior paints and coatings products for which Federal preferred procurement applies are:

(i) Interior latex and waterborne alkyd paints and coatings.  (ii) Interior oil-based and solventborne alkyd paints and coatings.

Oven and grill cleaners – Liquid or gel cleaning agents used on high temperature cooking surfaces such as barbeques, smokers, grills, stoves, and ovens to soften and loosen charred food, grease, and residue.

Slide way lubricants – Products used to provide lubrication and eliminate stick-slip and table chatter by reducing friction between mating surfaces, or slides, found in machine tools.

Thermal shipping containers – Insulated containers designed for shipping temperature-sensitive materials. Thermal shipping containers for which preferred procurement applies are:

(i) Durable thermal shipping container. These are thermal shipping containers that are designed to be reused over an extended period of time.  (ii) Non-durable thermal shipping containers. These are thermal shipping containers that are designed to be used once.

Determining Overlap with an EPA-designated recovered content product

USDA published a special note regarding the interior paints and coatings designation.  USDA indicates that qualifying biobased products within the interior latex and waterborne alkyd paints and coatings subcategory may, in some cases, overlap with the EPA-designated recovered content products: Reprocessed latex paints and consolidated latex paints. USDA is requesting that manufacturers of these qualifying biobased products provide information on the USDA Web site of qualifying biobased products about the intended uses of the product, information on whether or not the product contains any recovered material, in addition to biobased ingredients, and performance standards against which the product has been tested. This information will assist Federal agencies in determining whether or not a qualifying biobased product overlaps with EPA-designated reprocessed latex paints and consolidated latex paints and which product should be afforded the preference in purchasing.


USDA includes exemptions from the preferred procurement requirement for (1) products or systems designed or procured for combat or combat-related missions, and (2) spacecraft systems and launch support equipment. However, USDA states that this exemption does not extend to contractors performing work other than direct maintenance and support of the spacecraft or launch support equipment or combat or combat-related missions. In addition, USDA notes that agencies may purchase biobased products wherever performance, availability and reasonable price indicates that such purchases are justified.

Compliance Date

Except for thermal shipping containers, USDA is requiring compliance no later than July 23, 2012.  In designating these items, Federal agencies and contractors will be required to give a procurement preference for each of the designated items. Also, by this date, Federal agencies that have the responsibility for drafting or reviewing specifications for items to be procured will have to ensure that the relevant specifications require the use of the designated biobased items. For thermal shipping containers, USDA is proposing to defer the preference compliance until two or more manufacturers of these containers have been identified.