There’s no arguing that petroleum and petroleum-based products are damaging to our environment. To further our country’s use of pertroleum-free biobased products, the USDA started the BioPreferred Program in 2002. The program was later expanded as part of the 2014 Farm Bill. In February 2015, the USDA announced a new product—Tide PurClean—to the 2,500 products already certified as biobased. If you were unaware of this USDA-led program, find out the particulars below.

Biobased Defined

Essentially, the biobased label can be applied to any product made from plants and “other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials,” according to the USDA. Biobased products offer alternatives to petroleum-based products, such as plastics, lubricants and waxes. The USDA maintains a catalogue of all the products, with categories such as household goods, office supplies, packaging, safety equipment and more. From the viewpoint of the BioPreferred Program, the label is not applied to foods, feeds or fuels.

Benefits of Biobased Products

There are many advantages to using biobased products. The first is to our environment. Biobased products are made from renewable and sustainable sources, they are generally less toxic and they are inherently biodegradable. Additionally, according to a USDA press release, biobased products currently replace the use of approximately 300 million gallons of petroleum in the U.S. alone, which they compared to removing 200,000 vehicles from the road.

There are also economic benefits to biobased products as well. Essentially, they simultaneously reduce our dependence on foreign oil while supporting our nation’s economy by utilizing products that are grown, raised and processed in the U.S. According to a USDA report in June 2015, the biobased economy created by products like those in the BioPreferred Program add $369 billion to the national economy annually and have supported 4 million jobs both directly and indirectly.

Look for the voluntary USDA Certified Biobased Product label on packaging highlighting the percentage of biobased products used. Rest easy, because items have to be tested and verified by an independent, third-party laboratory. You’ll know that your use of such products supports the environment and the U.S. economy, making it a win-win.