President Obama has directed the federal government to dramatically increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years, which will create jobs and drive innovation where biobased products are grown and manufactured. The decision will also result in a 50 percent increase in the number of new products that are designated as biobased. Biobased products include items like paints, soaps and detergents, synthetic turf, and carpet are developed from farm grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. The biobased products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.
AstroTurf, a member of the Biobased Products Coalition, makes synthetic turf which features backing made by Universal Textile Technologies and made from soybean based polyols. SYNLawn, the landscape division of AstroTurf, also features soy-based backing in its landscape turf products.
“My administration is committed to using every tool available to promote economic growth and create good jobs in rural America,” said President Obama. “Today’s announcements reflect our continued focus on expanding opportunity for rural Americans and all Americans, including supporting new and innovative businesses, and improving rural health care and education. And the actions we’re taking today are possible thanks to the feedback and ideas I’ve received from hardworking Americans across rural America, including the participants at the White House Rural Economic Forum.”
For AstroTurf and SYNLawn, the decision opens the doors for synthetic turf sports and landscape applications at federal government facilities throughout the country, including military installations.
AstroTurf has worked closely with soybean farmers throughout the country in creating awareness of its synthetic turf products. In 2011, AstroTurf installed the new football field at Kansas State University, where AstroTurf President Bryan Peeples and Kansas Soybean Commission Chairman Bob Haselwood were presented with a game ball and 5,000 fans received samples of the soy-backed AstroTurf.
“This is a monumental decision,” said Peeples. “AstroTurf and SYNLawn are on the cutting edge when it comes to the sustainability movement, and biobased manufacturing has become a huge part of our corporate culture. We are providing the best synthetic turf products available, all while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and helping to create American jobs.”
The Presidential Memo builds on the Congressional support for biobased products established in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills. Key provisions in the new memorandum include:
- Requiring federal agencies to include goals and milestones for biobased purchasing in their Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans.
- Including biobased purchasing in the scorecard that the Office of Management and Budget uses to rate agencies’ Sustainability/Energy performance.
- Directing a 50 percent increase in the number of new product categories that are designated by USDA as biobased for preferred federal purchasing.
- Requiring new public reporting of federal agencies’ biobased product purchasing.
- Requiring federal agencies to sample and verify that biobased products are being included in purchasing contracts, identified in purchasing catalogs, and integrated in product specifications and contracting procedures.
- Directing the implementation of new biobased purchasing training, education, and outreach efforts to federal buyers.
- Providing assistance to small businesses to improve the selling of biobased products and services to the Federal Government.
- Directing the Secretary of Agriculture to prepare a report to the President on job creation and the economic impact associated with the biobased products industry.
“We know that when biobased products are used, it’s going to create new manufacturing opportunities in rural areas and we also know that it’s going to reduce our reliance on foreign oil,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The federal biobased initiative is also an important model for state and other governments, such as Ohio, that passed legislation that requires state agencies to buy biobased products that are designated through the federal biobased program. Counties across the nation have started using biobased products as well.
Biobased product manufacturers and allied organizations launched the Biobased Products Coalition, of which AstroTurf is a member, in 2007 to focus and coordinate industry efforts to improve the federal biobased program and promote other favorable federal policies. The BPC provides a forum for biobased manufacturers of all sizes as well as farmer and other trade associations to present a unified industry voice on federal policy.