President Obama wants the Department of Agriculture to boost the categories and products in its BioPreferred program by 50 percent and agencies to add biobased products to their preferred and green purchasing programs. In a February 21 memo, the President laid out steps for significantly increasing procurement of biobased and other sustainable products and meeting the requirements identified in Executive Order 13514. EO 13514 directs that 95 percent of new contracts require products and services that are energy-efficient, water-efficient, biobased, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, contain recycled content, or non-toxic or less toxic alternatives (if the products and services meet performance requirements).
Currently, the USDA designates 9,000 biobased products—less than half of the known total—for preferred procurement. According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the steps outlined in the memo will “dramatically increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years.” In addition to certifying more biobased products, the memo directs USDA to make its automated contract writing system a model for biobased product procurement and share it with other agencies. The memo also outlines other procurement and reporting changes to increase purchases of biobased products.