As stated in its name, the Biobased Status is a program run by the USDA that allows for products to be labeled as such if they comply with the norms that would determine it to be a product composed wholly, or in significant part, by biological products such as renewable domestic agricultural materials, forestry materials, intermediate materials, or feedstocks.

Biobased products exclude motor vehicle fuels, heating oil, or electricity produced from biomass. For a product to be certified, it must follow three main steps in order; these are the application phase, thetesting phase, and the certification phase (detailed here). After completing this process, products can proudly bear the USDA Certified Biobased Product label on their packaging.

Quick aside on why biobased is good: Biobased aims to increase the use of renewable resources, resources you do not have to grow because they are residual streams (ex. hemp) ,and resources that absorb CO2 so, in theory, biobased is great for the environment. 

We have mapped USDA Biobased certification to:

  • Reducing Carbon Emissions

USDA Biobased Status certifies:

  • Products

Cost to get certified:

There is no cost for participating in this USDA's program, but there is a cost for the products' testing which uses ASTM D6866and is estimated to be around $400 USD per sample plus  shipping costs.

Do they perform audits on the companies:

Yes, the details can be found here.

Standards listed on their website:

Yes, the USDA has identified minimum biobased content standards for 139 categories of biobased products.


The USDA is no stranger to scandals. Here we note a few:

Ethically's quick take:

While the biobased products label is one of the USDA's best run programs, the fact that we are indeed talking about the USDA itself disallows us to strongly agree, and that is why in Ethically we Somewhat Agree with this certification. The fact that agencies are bound to the powers in turn can make things shaky where a change in administration could easily ruin a process within the agency and could downgrade a certification's quality. This one we will keep a closer eye on.