EDF, Great Lakes Governors, Printing Industry Outline Plan For Preventing Pollution From Printing

July 22, 1994

(July 22, 1994—Geneva) The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Council of Great Lakes Governors (CGLG), and the Printing Industries of America (PIA) today released a joint report making recommendations to reduce pollution from the printing industry at a competitive advantage to printers. The findings from the joint effort, called the Great Printers Project, are aimed at making pollution prevention a standard business practice in the printing industry and beyond, and improving environmental regulation of small business to make it more conducive to pollution prevention.

The cooperative effort, which began in early 1993, will help establish pollution prevention as a standard business practice in the printing industry, which engages some 54,000 firms nationwide in printing magazines, books and other commercial printing with a total annual output of $85.5 billion. Great Lakes states produce 39% of U.S. printing output.

“For industries composed of small businesses, focusing only on permits and inspections cannot attain environmental achievements,” said Fred Krupp, executive director of EDF. “The Great Printers Project suggests replacing redundant bureaucracy with simpler forms that guide the small business person to reduce photochemical smog, hazardous waste and wastewater discharges. Since all parties were at the table, everyone is invested in making these recommendations work.”

“The Great Printers Project demonstrates the importance of voluntary pollution prevention as a creative means of limiting the impact of manufacturing on the environment. We have created a new framework for regulating industry that rewards and supports the elimination of pollution at its source,” said Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin.

“The Great Printers Project marks a major change in the way of doing business in the printing industry. It will make it easier for printers to make environmentally sound decisions for themselves and their customers,” said Tom Purcell, director of environmental affairs for PIA.

At one 60-employee print shop, General Litho Services of Minneapolis (which printed the joint report), substantial environmental benefits and economic savings were realized in just one year by utilizing Great Printers Project principles:

  • The reduction of isopropyl alcohol (a volatile organic compound which contributes to smog) from 605 gallons per year to 95 gallons per year saved $1,355 annually.
  • Chemical solvents used in blanket wash process (contributes to smog) were reduced from 1595 gallons to 790 gallons in one year, a savings of $3,824.
  • The re-use and reformulation of printing ink (waste ink must be disposed of as hazardous waste) saved over $18,000 in one year.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Carol Browner endorsed the report and promised to implement its findings and apply its lessons to the broader universe of U.S. industries.

“The recommendations in the Great Printers report will contribute to an important transition taking place in the printing industry which will allow print shops to do their work cleaner, cheaper and smarter. It addresses many of the themes EPA is pursuing through our Common Sense Initiative, and I’m pleased to endorse it,” said Browner.

“This cooperative effort will help the printing industry, particularly smaller printers, achieve the goal of preventing pollution. As a member of PIA, and a printer in the Great Lakes area, I am excited about this project and look forward to being a part of it,” said Robert E. Murphy, president of Japs-Olsen Company, Minneapolis, MN and PIA board member.

“The printing industry is an immensely vital and important industry in the Great Lakes states. Printers in our states produce nearly half of the U.S. total printing output. We are convinced that the recommendations put forward by the Great Printers Project will enhance printers’ competitiveness,” said Governor George Voinovich of Ohio.

“With the support of the EPA, the Great Printers recommendations will be instrumental in developing Great Lakes policies which will positively benefit the economy and the environment as affected by the printing industry. These recommendations may also serve as the basis for similar innovation in comparable industrial sectors,” said Governor John Engler of Michigan.

“The economic and environmental benefits of pollution prevention are numerous. We must continue to promote pollution prevention as a means of achieving a more sustainable future,” said Governor Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Printers, like many small businesses, face an array of environmental requirements, including separate air, water and waste regulations. These requirements are often treated as individual end-of-pipe problems, and a printer may sink considerable time, capital, and employee training into separate air, water and waste strategies. However, the company will typically find it more cost-effective to solve several problems at once by preventing pollution at the source.

The project team found that the environmental decisions of printers are influenced by printers themselves, print customers, suppliers, government regulators, and providers of technical and financial assistance. Based on this premise, the project team developed recommendations for each of these players. In particular, the project team assembled by the CGLG, EDF and PIA that contributed to the final report and recommendations includes government, environmental and labor groups, industry leaders and leading print suppliers such as Eastman Kodak Company, and printers such as Quad Graphics.

The Great Printers Project team recommends that EPA and its state partners present printers with reporting and permitting requirements that avoid redundancy and arcane language and regulations, and provide:

  • Information in useful formats such as videos, and computer or electronic information systems;
  • Guidance through an “interview” format that guides a printer toward pollution prevention techniques that will help the printer meet and exceed federal and state environmental requirements.

The recommendations of the Great Printers Project will be implemented through state pilot projects, which will be supported by a national policy team. Implementation of the recommendations will be executed in cooperation with the President’s Council on Sustainable Development.


The Environmental Defense Fund, a leading, national, NY-based nonprofit organization, represents 250,000 members. EDF links science, economics, and law to create innovative, economically viable solutions to today’s environmental problems.

Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, Printing Industries of America, Inc. is the world’s largest graphic arts trade association representing an industry with more than 960,000 employees and $94 billion in sales. PIA promotes the interests of more than 14,000 member companies.

The Council of Great Lakes Governors was established in 1983 to foster cooperation on economic and environmental public policy issues common to its member states. The member states include New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Headquartered in Chicago, the Council develops regional initiatives for the Great Lakes Governors for implementation at the state level. It also monitors federal policy issues affecting the Region and coordinates unified responses by the Governors. The Council works closely with the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec as well.

The Great Printers Project has been started with seed money from the Great Lakes Protection Fund. The three partners will maintain financial independence and will not accept advertising promotion or other benefits as part of the partnership. EDF will not accept funding from private corporations or trade associations for its participation in the project.