Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said President Obama's memo directing agencies to buy more bio-based products will "dramatically increase the purchase of bio-based products over the next two years." (Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images)
President Obama in a memo Tuesday directs agencies to step up their purchasing of bio-based products.
The Agriculture Department must increase the number of categories and products eligible for its BioPreferred program by 50 percent within one year. Those products include, for example, paints, soaps and detergents that are developed from farm-grown plants rather than chemicals or petroleum bases.
About 9,000 products fall under USDA's bio-based products program — a voluntary program under which companies certify their products as bio-based, making them eligible for preferential procurement by agencies.
The memo will "dramatically increase the purchase of bio-based products over the next two years." Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release.
The memo builds on Obama's 2009 directive that 95 percent of new agency contracts require the supply or use of products and services that are energy-efficient, water-efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, recyclable, or non-toxic or less toxic alternatives.
The memo requires:
• Agencies must add bio-based products to their preferred purchasing programs and provide training to all acquisition staff on the use of bio-based products. They must verify that bio-based products are included in their green purchasing mandates.
• The Office of Management and Budget must highlight bio-based purchasing in its annual scorecards showing agencies' progress on environmental mandates.
• Agriculture must change its automated contract writing system to incorporate the requirements for bio-based products and to share the new system with other agencies.