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USDA Certification

Helping Grow Our BioEconomy

Our BioCommunity Continues to Grow

Thanks to the support of the USDA’s BioPreferred® program and the ingenuity of American manufacturers, the U.S. bioeconomy is thriving — supporting millions of jobs, driving economic growth and expanding opportunities for biobased products. The BioPreferred Program is an initiative led by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which focuses on the development and expansion of markets for biobased products. The program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill (and recently reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill).

USDA Certified Containers

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Q&A on the USDA Program

What are BioBased products?

Biobased products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine and forestry materials.

Biobased products generally provide an alternative to conventional petroleum derived products and include a variety of offerings such as lubricants, detergents, inks, fertilizers, containers and bioplastics.

What are the benefits of BioBased products?

Biobased products provide all the same benefits as conventional products: they are cost-effective, readily available and perform as well or better than their petroleum-containing counterparts.

For the environment, they help us increase our use of renewable resources while decreasing our use of non-renewable resources such as petroleum.

For the economy, according to a report from the USDA back in July 2019, biobased products contributed $459 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016 and both directly and indirectly supported 4.6 million jobs.

What is the overall purpose of the USDA Certified BioBased Product label?

The USDA Certified Biobased Product label is designed to provide useful information to consumers about the biobased content of the product. The label assures a consumer that the product contains a USDA-verified amount of renewable biological ingredients.

What are the criteria for earning certification?

Products need to meet a minimum biobased content set by the USDA. The manufacturers of these products must test the biobased content at an independent, third party laboratory.

What HC fiber products have been certified and what is their biobased makeup?

What are the benefits of the USDA Certified BioBased Product label for growers and distributors?

The USDA Certified Biobased Product label provides a trusted, quantifiable verification of biobased content.

For distributors, this now provides them with credible data they can confidently share with customers searching for a more sustainable alternative to plastic – especially those growers of popular organic products.

For growers, with changing environmental regulations and consumer demands on the rise, this offers them a verified sustainable solution to their current petroleum containers – available in a wide array of styles, configurations and sizes.

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USDA BioPreferred Program and Certified Biobased Product label

“For over 30 years, HC’s been providing fiber-based solutions to the North American market – helping organizations and communities positively impact their environmental footprint,” says Eric Gunderson, Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The HC Companies. “We are honored that our fiber-based solutions meet the high standards maintained by the USDA. With this esteemed certification, growers, garden centers, big-box stores and consumers – through quantifiable data – know they are making responsible choices.”

The BioPreferred Program is a USDA-led initiative that assists the development and expansion of markets for biobased products. The BioPreferred Program is transforming the marketplace for biobased products through two initiatives: mandatory purchasing requirements for Federal Agencies and Federal contractors and voluntary product certification and labeling. Biobased products span a diverse range of applications, such as lubricants, cleaning products, chemicals and bioplastics.

The USDA Certified Biobased Product label communicates a product’s biobased content. Expressed as a percentage, biobased content is the ratio of non-fossil organic carbon (new organic carbon) to total organic carbon in a product. New organic carbon is derived from recently-created materials.

The total organic carbon in a product consists of new organic carbon and old organic carbon that originates from fossil carbon materials, such as petroleum, coal, or natural gas. More than 3,500 products have earned the USDA Certified Biobased Product label. To learn more about the USDA Certified Biobased Product label please visit, and follow on Twitter at

“We applaud The HC Companies for earning the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label,” said Vernell Thompson, USDA BioPreferred Program. “Products from The HC Companies are contributing to an ever-expanding marketplace that adds value to renewable agriculture commodities, creates jobs in rural communities and decreases our reliance on petroleum.”

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HC's Sustainable Commitment

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