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Greening the Government Exploredat Bio-Based Products Seminar

By federal definition, “bio-based” describes a commercial or industrial product, other than food or feed, that utilizes biological products, or renewable domestic agricultural or forestry materials. For example, biodegradable soybean starch is being explored as a petroleum-substitute to manufacture “bio-based” plastic utensils.

To spread awareness of new technologies, Committee D20 on Plastics sponsored a Bio-Based Product Development Seminar on July 24 in conjunction with their standards development meetings in Colorado. Approximately 80 people attended presentations by Ron Buckhalt, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Nancy Royal-Jones, U.S. Defense Logistics Agency.

Buckhalt discussed an interagency working-group implementation of Executive Order #13134, Developing and Promoting Bio-Based Products and Bio-Energy, and described his activities with the White House Task Force on “greening the government.”

Royal-Jones also described implementation of the order, as well as the partnering of federal agencies and industry for its success, and the stimulation of additional markets for bio-based products.

“Executive Order #13134 has been put into Federal law by the passage of H.R.2559,” noted D20 committee chairman, Paul Sample, Ph.D., Samples, Inc., Wilmington, Del. “Therefore, what was a presidential position has now been supported by Congress. We will ‘green’ the government wherever and whenever possible. This is just the beginning.”

Committee D20 continues to develop reliable ASTM reference standards for bio-based product manufacturers and regulators, and acquisition personnel responsible for ordering environmentally-preferable products. ASTM D 6400, Specification for Compostable Plastics, is available for use in a industry certification program to identify plastic products that will biodegrade and compost satisfactorily in actively-managed compost facilities. The specification was completed last year by Subcommittee D20.96 on Degradable Products. Currently, they are developing a provisional Standard Specification for Bio-Based Cutlery that is intended to replace Federal Specification A-A-3109. These voluntary-consensus standards support the inclusion of bio-based products into the federal supply system. To learn more about this process, go to

For more information regarding D20’s bio-based activities, contact D20 chairman, Paul Sample, Ph.D., Samples, Inc., 308 Walden Rd., Wilmington, DE 19803-2424 (302/656-3212), or the D20.96 chairman, Ramani Narayan, Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Michigan State University, A2527 Engineering Building, East Lansing, MI 48824 (517/432-0775). //

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