USDA awards first certified bio-based product label for Clear Lam Packaging’s renewable thermoformed produce containers.

Renewable thermoformed produce packaging developed by Clear Lam Packaging, Inc., has earned the industry's first U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased Product Label, it was announced March 31. It is part of a new voluntary labeling program to help purchasers choose products made with bio-based commodities. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan unveiled the nation's first products approved to display the new USDA product label at a bio-based product meeting.

"These companies are proving that innovation and agriculture can grow together to build a foundation for future growth in rural America as we work to win the future," says Merrigan. "Consumer cleaning products, containers, and the 'intermediate materials' used to manufacture them - made from agriculturally-sourced ingredients - help add value to commodities, create jobs in rural communities, and can reduce our dependence on imported oil."

Bio-based products are those composed wholly or significantly of agricultural ingredients - renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. This new label indicates that the product has been independently certified to meet USDA BioPreferred program standards for bio-based content. Clear Lam was among the first companies to submit applications for the USDA BioPreferred program, including five product lines in the packaging category.

"We're proud to achieve this important distinction under USDA's BioPreferred program as it will bring greater clarity to the marketplace and spur more leading product manufacturers and consumers to embrace materials that reduce adverse environmental impacts," says James Sanfilippo, president and CEO of Clear Lam Packaging. "Because many bio-based packages look the same as petroleum-based products, the Biobased Product Label lets everyone know they can trust manufacturer's bio-based claims as they've been verified through a reliable, rigorous third-party certification process."   

Clear Lam's renewable thermoformed produce containers are produced from over 93% plant-based bioplastics derived from Ingeo polylactic acid (PLA) along with ingredients that add performance characteristics such as enhanced impact and temperature resistance. These materials are part of the company's Project EarthClear(tm) program and replace petroleum-based plastics with bio-based ingredients developed to reduce the introduction of fossil carbon into the atmosphere.

In addition to Clear Lam's renewable thermoformed produce containers that will now carry the Biobased Product Label, the company has four other applications underway for its flexible and rigid packages. Currently, Clear Lam works with several leading retailers and consumer packaged goods companies to supply renewable packaging. The Walmart private-label Marketside branded Organic Lettuce containers are one of the first packages certified under the USDA BioPreferred program. These renewable containers are also used to package fruit, meat, cheese, candy and nuts. Additional packaging Clear Lam has submitted for the BioPreferred program includes packages for condiments, salty snacks and dairy based items such as yogurt and cottage cheese.

USDA BioPreferred Program background

Through implementation of the pre-existing USDA BioPreferred program created in 2002, 5,100 bio-based products have been designated for preferred purchasing by Federal agencies. The new label makes identification of these products easier for Federal buyers and will increase awareness of these high-value products in commercial and consumer markets. USDA estimates that there are 20,000 bio-based products currently being manufactured in the United States.

Congress reauthorized and strengthened the program in the 2008 Farm Bill to further promote the sale of bio-based products. With the launch of this new Biobased Product Label, USDA's BioPreferred program is now comprised of two parts: a bio-based product procurement preference program for Federal agencies, and a voluntary labeling initiative for the broad-scale marketing of biobased products. To learn more, please visit www.biopreferred.gov

To learn more about Clear Lam and the Project EarthClear program, visit ProjectEarthClear