The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On September 14, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management announced a proposal to amend the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement. Under this amendment, 30 sections will be added to determine categories within which biobased products “would be afforded procurement preference by Federal agencies and their contractors.” These categories include products that are made from intermediate ingredients that were formerly proposed for designation for federal procurement preference. In its proposed amendment, USDA is suggesting a minimum biobased content for each of these product categories. The aim is to amend the existing designated categories of firearm lubricants, water clarifying agents, general purpose de-icers, and laundry products to align them to the data gathered since these categories were originally designated. Comments must be submitted on or before November 13, 2018.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On July 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Procurement and Property Management announced it was amending the Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement to add 12 sections that designate product categories within which biobased products will be afforded federal procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors via a final rule.  83 Fed. Reg. 31841.  The Federal Register publication states that this final rule “designates the proposed product categories within which biobased products will be afforded Federal procurement preference” and that “USDA has determined that each of the product categories being designated under this rulemaking meets the necessary statutory requirements; that they are being produced with biobased products; and that their procurement will carry out the following objectives of section 9002:  to improve demand for biobased products; to spur development of the industrial base through value-added agricultural processing and manufacturing in rural communities; and to enhance the Nation’s energy security by substituting biobased products for products derived from imported oil and natural gas.”
 
The final rule revises the definition of the following categories in an effort to clarify or add examples of intermediates that can be included in each of these categories:

  • Intermediates -- plastic resins (revised to include the term “polymers”);
  • Intermediates -- chemicals (revised to list additional materials such as viscosity reducers, rheology modifiers, adhesion agents, polyols, and polymers);
  • Intermediates -- paint and coating components (revised to add additional examples of paint and coating components, such as humectants, open time additives, and polymers); and
  • Intermediates -- binders (revised to expand on the types of chemicals that typically make up binders, to include examples of materials that binders can be used to formulate, and to include the phrase “binders are generally polymers or polymer precursors (such as epoxies) and include the polymeric materials used to formulate coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers”).
This final rule will become effective on August 9, 2018.

 

By Kathleen M. Roberts

On December 4, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued in the Federal Register a notice of request for public comment regarding an extension of a previously approved ICR regarding biobased procurements.  Pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause 52.223-2, prime contractors are required to report annually the product types and dollar values of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-designated biobased products purchased to the System for Award Management (SAM) website, which supports annual reporting to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) concerning actions taken to implement and measure progress in carrying out the preference for biobased products required under Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. 
 
Public comments are invited specifically on:

  • Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the FAR, and whether it will have practical utility;
  • Whether the estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways in which we can minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
  • ​​Comments are due by January 3, 2018.

 

On Monday, October 26, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) presented “Bioproducts in the Federal Bioeconomy Portfolio Webinar,” a webinar on how the federal government is promoting sustainability through three different avenues: bioproducts research; commercialization; and market development.  The presenters on these topics were DOE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) Technology Manager Nichole Fitzgerald; U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred Deputy Program Manager Kate Lewis; and the Ohio State University Bioproducts Innovation Center’s Director Dennis Hall.  The webinar summary stated that “the creation of a robust, next-generation domestic bioenergy industry is one of the most important pathways for providing Americans with sustainable, renewable energy alternatives,” and “through research, development, and commercialization to produce renewable fuels and products sustainable and affordable, we can provide home-grown alternatives for the transportation, energy, and bioproducts sectors.”

We summarize below some webinar highlights:

  • There are substantial emissions reductions that bioproducts can provide compared to their fossil-derived counterparts (varying from 45 percent up to 86 percent).
  • Renewable chemicals have many positive bioeconomy contributions and few negative aspects.  Renewable chemicals help the bioeconomy in the following important ways:
    • Bolsters the economy (e.g., knowledge from bioproduct production can be transferred to biofuels production);
    • Market entry (e.g., corporations will support the bioeconomy through the purchase and use of sustainable products); and
    • Renewable chemicals are critical for economic success of advanced biofuel production (e.g., reduces risk by allowing biorefineries to pursue a higher value product).
  • National unaided awareness of biobased products has increased -- from 30 percent in 2013 up to 48 percent in 2014.
  • The U.S. biobased products industry had significant contributions to the economy in 2013, including:
    • Adding four million American jobs, as well as adding 1.64 more jobs per every biobased products job; and
    • Adding $369 billion to the economy.

More information on biobased issues is available on Bergeson and Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) website under subject “Biobased Products, Biotechnology.”


 

On October 8, 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy announced the upcoming Bioproducts in the Federal Bioeconomy Portfolio Webinar. Bioenergy Technologies Office Technology Manager Nichole Fitzgerald, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred Deputy Program Manager Kate Lewis, and the Ohio State University Bioproducts Innovation Center's Director Dennis Hall will discuss how the federal government supports bioproducts research, commercialization, and market development as part of the expansion of the U.S. bioeconomy. The webinar is scheduled for October 26, 2015, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (EDT), and registration is available online.


 

On September 25, 2015, EPA published Recommendations for Specifications, Environmental Performance Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Procurement. The notice describes EPA's recommendations for federal agencies that are purchasing environmentally-friendly products. Section 3(i) of Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, directs federal agencies to adhere to certain environmental performance and sustainability standards when practicable. The new EPA recommendations list acceptable environmentally sustainable product brands and service providers that require a procurement preference, including EPA's voluntary program Energy Star®, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Certified Biobased label BioPreferred®, and EPA designated recycled content products, among others.


 

In the October 30, 2014, Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued a notice of request for public comments regarding an extension of a previously approved information collection requirement regarding Biobased Procurements. The original notice was published in the Federal Register on August 20, 2014, and no comments were received. Comments are now due on December 1, 2014.


As summarized by the notice, the "Federal Acquisition Regulation clause 52.223-2, Affirmative Procurement of Biobased Products Under Service and Construction Contracts, requires prime contractors to report annually the product types and dollar values of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-designated biobased products purchased to the System for Award Management (SAM) Web site. The information reported by prime contractors enables Federal agencies to report annually to the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) concerning actions taken to implement and measure progress in carrying out the preference for biobased products required under section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, codified at 7 U.S.C. 8102."