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USDA Awards Certified Biobased Product Label to Goods From National Industries for the Blind Associated Nonprofit Agencies

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Products from two of the 90 nonprofit agencies associated with National Industries for the Blind (NIB) were among those approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use USDA’s new product label on certified biobased products. The announcement was made by Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan at a biobased product meeting March 31 in Glenwillow, Ohio.

NIB and its associated agencies provide employment for people who are blind by producing products and providing services to federal government customers through the AbilityOne Program.

One of the USDA-certified products is hand sanitizer sold under the SKILCRAFT® brand through Travis Association for the Blind in Austin, Texas. The PURELL Green Certified Instant Hand Sanitizer Foam is produced by GOJO Industries Inc. and made with 100% naturally renewable plant-derived ethanol in a readily biodegradable formula.

Another USDA-certified biobased product is SKILCRAFT® Liquid Hand Soap, which has 98 percent biobased content, and is manufactured by The Lighthouse for the Blind in St. Louis, Missouri.

“We are proud to achieve certification from USDA for our quality biobased products,” said NIB President and CEO Kevin A. Lynch. “This supports the federal government’s greening initiative, while providing meaningful employment for people who are blind.”

“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,” said Deputy Secretary 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.”

Biobased 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 biobased content. Biobased products reduce the use of petroleum in manufactured products and reduce the introduction of fossil carbon into the atmosphere.

The Secretary of Agriculture has designated 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by federal agencies. USDA estimates there are 20,000 biobased products currently being manufactured in the United States.

About National Industries for the Blind

At National Industries for the Blind (NIB), it is our mission to enhance the opportunities for economic and personal independence of persons who are blind, primarily through creating, sustaining and improving employment. NIB and 90 associated agencies serve as the largest employer for people who are blind by the sale of SKILCRAFT® products and services through the AbilityOne Program, established by the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act.

About USDA’s BioPreferred Program

USDA’s BioPreferred program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill to increase the purchase and use of biobased products within the Federal government. Congress reauthorized and strengthened the program in the 2008 Farm Bill to further promote the sale of biobased products. With the launch of this new biobased product label, USDA’s BioPreferred program is now comprised of two parts: a biobased product procurement preference program for Federal agencies, and a voluntary labeling initiative for the broad-scale marketing of biobased products.

About Travis Association for the Blind

Travis Association for the Blind, otherwise known as the Austin Lighthouse, is a service-oriented nonprofit organization, established in 1934 with the mission to assist people who are blind or vision impaired to attain skills needed to gain employment. In 1987, the Lighthouse began a Skin Care product line for Texas state agencies, purchasing raw materials from GOJO Industries. In 2005, the Lighthouse co-branded with SKILCRAFT to provide products such as PURELL hand sanitizer, hand soap, and hair and body shampoo to the federal government through the AbilityOne Program, creating new jobs for blind and visually impaired employees. In addition to its 62,500-square-foot manufacturing facility, the Lighthouse operates distribution warehouses where employees who are blind learn new skills including computer operations, order processing and customer service.

About The Lighthouse for the Blind – St. Louis

The Lighthouse for the Blind is a privately chartered, 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation established in 1933. Through the manufacture and sale of products to various government agencies as well as commercial customers, Lighthouse furthers its mission of assisting individuals who are legally blind to maintain dignity and independence by making available employment, education and support services. Lighthouse is committed to providing a supportive environment where employees can count on developing new and productive skills that will assist them in reaching amazing levels of independence.


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