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NWPCA & USDA BioPreferred® Program QA
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A Q&A On PDS & the USDA BioPreferred® Program

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The NWPCA co-hosted a webinar, “USDA BioPreferred® – What Does This Mean for PDS Licensees?” on March 30, 2017 with a repeat webinar held on April 20.

Below is a compilation of questions raised during the March webinar. This is the first time that group certification has been achieved for the USDA BioPreferred®program.

The NWPCA and the USDA continue to work closely to provide the most current information on the BioPreferred program and proper use of the USDA Certified Biobased Product label.

This Q&A resource will be updated regularly.

Q: How do I get the USDA BioPreferred certified Biobased Product label?

All requests for the label must be made through the NWPCA at Once the association verifies that your company is a Pallet Design System (PDS) license holder in good standing, you will receive notification and the ability to download the USDA Certified Biobased Product label, along with the USDA BioPreferred Program’s Brand Guidelines.

Q: Can pallet recyclers and remanufacturers use the certification logo/mark?

Yes, provided that the pallet you’re remanufacturing or recycling was constructed using The Pallet Design System (PDS) and that you are a current PDS license holder.

Q: How and where should the certification be stamped/applied to the pallet?

There are currently no special requirements for the exact location of the label on the pallet. The general guidelines for how to display and promote the USDA Certified Biobased Product label are available at

Q: Can the USDA Certified Biobased Product label be burned into the wood?

Yes. The label may be burned or rubber stamped into the wood of the pallet.

Q: Is it possible for members to use a rubber stamp with an outline image? 

Yes. You can refer to the USDA Branding Guidelines for additional assistance.

Q: How do nails factor into the 100% biobased certification?

The test method used - ASTM D6866 - only quantifies biobased content based on organic carbon content. Nails contain very little or no organic carbon, and are not considered when determining biobased content.

Q: What can be done about wood crate and box certifications?

For now, the certification is only applicable for PDS-designed wood pallets.

Q: As a broker, will the USDA certification be limited to our preferred suppliers that are NWPCA members only? PDS license holders?

Both members and non-members of the NWPCA may lease PDS. The USDA certification is for pallets constructed using The Pallet Design System™ (PDS). For potential auditing purposes, pallet brokers that lease PDS are responsible to assure the terms and conditions of the program are met when outsourcing production.

Q: When stamping the pallet, what percentage of biobased product do you use?

100%. Pallets made by PDS are 100% biobased. The logo provided to download is for 100% biobased content. You will receive two files from NWPCA: one full color along with a black and white outline graphic file. It is against Federal regulations to alter the label in any way, including changing the biobased content. More specifics on USDA branding are available at

Q: Does a biobased product qualify for LEED credits under the USGBC?

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. It is unclear at this time if wood pallets certified under the USDA BioPreferred program qualify for LEED points under the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). There are biobased products that can be used toward LEED credits, however more research by USDA needs to be done to better answer this question.

Q: Can I use the mark on a pallet built with OSB/plywood if designed with PDS?

No. While PDS allows for the design of wood pallets with composite or other types of panels, the certification applies only to solid wood pallets. NWPCA and the USDA are discussing additional categories for this type of certification.

Are there any programs that award carbon credits for the number of certified biobased pallets through the USDA BioPreferred program sold?

It is unknown at this time. The USDA has kindly offered to further explore this for our industry.

Q: If we add packaging such as corrugated or foam to pallets and crates, are we still able to label it as BioPreferred?

The product label may be stamped to the pallet only. The certification only covers the pallet designed with PDS.

(Reviewed/updated as of April 10, 2017)

We’re proud to have USDA recognize PDS and the role it plays in wood pallet design and durability. If you are a licensee of PDS, then you participate in the USDA BioPreferred® program and your shipping pallets are USDA Certified Biobased products. NWPCA members with questions about the program or details about how to use the USDA BioPreferred® label should contact Patrick Atagi, VP of Advocacy & External Affairs, NWPCA, at 703-519-6104.