Executive branch to buy more bio-based products

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WASHINGTON (Feb. 23, 12:15 p.m. ET) — The executive branch of the U.S. government intends to buy more bio-based products, such as disposable spoons made from potatoes and hand soap derived from soybeans.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum for the executive branch to dramatically increase the purchase of bio-based products over the next two years

“We want to get to the point where we’re using everything we grow and everything we raise,” to create jobs, help the environment and reduce petroleum use, U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack told USA Today.

The memorandum requires the executive branch to track and increase its purchases of products made from plants and other renewable agricultural materials that are designated as bio-based by 50 percent within the next year. The number of eligible products is 9,000, the newspaper said.

The USDA BioPreferred program has two major initiatives: the USDA will certify and award labels to qualifying products to increase consumer recognition of bio-based products and will designate categories of bio-based products that are afforded preference by the executive branch when making purchasing decisions.

The rules build upon the USDA’s BioPreferred program, which was created by the 2002 Farm Bill.