Jacquie Ottman's
Green Marketing Blog

Defining Biobased

Biobased products are getting a lot of attention lately. Who doesn’t like the idea of making products out of corn, soy and other agricultural ingredients? We are proud to be working with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred program. It’s a USDA-led initiative designed to increase the purchase, use, and evaluation of biobased products, including biopolymers.

USDA defines biobased products as those composed in whole or in significant part of biological ingredients; forestry or renewable agricultural materials - including plant, animal, or marine (e.g. algae) ingredients. USDA identifies more than 4,500 biobased products (products must meet/exceed minimum biobased content) in 42 product categories as “BioPreferred designated” products.

However, are biobased products really ‘greener’? Hint: they may not be any more or less green than any other single attribute-based “green” product (Consider, for example, that organic strawberries can travel thousands of miles to your cereal bowl. Or Energy Star labelled CFLs contain mercury.)

We’ve begun the dialogue on the environmental assessment of biobased products via a public meeting held in Jan 2010 - meeting materials are available on the home page of the program’s website, http://www.biopreferred.gov

And an article by Jennifer Barry, recently published on Earth911.com does a great job of summarizing the issues, too. Check it out and weigh in on the debate!

Jacquie Ottman is president of J. Ottman Consulting, Inc., advisers to industry and government on effective green marketing strategies.

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