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What is PNEAC?

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In 1993, the Council of Great Lakes Governors, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Printing Industries of America formed a team representing Great Lakes regulatory agency, state and federal technical assistance providers, printers, supplier and customer, and members of labor and environmental groups. This team reviewed regulations, permit and reporting requirements for all environmental media, to identify barriers and possible incentives to pollution prevention and general environmental protection. They have recommended technical, financial and regulatory assistance needed, and how best to provide it.

The team released a July 1994 report titled, "The Great Printers Project Recommendations to Make Pollution Prevention a Standard Practice in the Printing Industry." The report encourages commitment to the Great Printers Principles, suggests restructured regulatory requirements, improves printers' access to information and technology, and provides information to print buyers on ways to make pollution prevention and environmental protection a natural part of doing business in the printing industry. Each State Pilot is using the Great Printers Project report as the basis of action.

Pollution prevention projects such as the Great Printers Project can help realize the opportunities for source reduction by focusing beyond treatment and disposal, and considering multi-media management of pollution. Businesses need information and technical assistance to overcome institutional barriers and adopt source reduction practices. With the continued collaboration of the State Pilots, the demand for continuous innovative pollution prevention technologies in the printing industry will be inherent for everyone working with or in the industry.


The Great Printers Project is the first in the nation to seek to create a business environment conducive to pollution prevention for an entire industry sector. The project intends:

  • to make pollution prevention the primary choice of the Great Lakes states printing industry in meeting and exceeding its environmental and human health protection responsibilities.
  • to recast our approach to environmental policy by bringing together representatives from government, industry, labor, and environmental groups to focus on the common goals of environmental protection and economic strength.

The Role of Printers Continuous Effort in Great Printing

The Great Printers Project recommends that printer's voluntarily adopt the Great Printers Principals, which can be achieved by:

  • seeking out information on their shop's environmental performance, and communicating its environmental impacts to buyers;
  • performing compliance and pollution prevention assessments, and correcting any compliance problems; and
  • measuring their own progress in preventing pollution.

Printers can use the principles as a pathway to environmentally sound printing, while producing a quality product. Adherence to these principles also can be used by printers as a marketing tool, to attract consumers who want "Great Printing".

The Role of Print Buyers: Building Markets for Great Printing

The Great Printers Project recommends that printers work with their customers to develop job specifications that protect the environment, while meeting their customers' requirements for a quality product.

Great Printing Principals

A Great Printer is one who minimizes impact on human health and the environment, while producing a quality printed product for the customer.

Toward that end, the goals of a Great Printer are to:

  • Comply with applicable environmental and worker health and safety laws;
  • Go beyond compliance by employing the most environmentally sound practices, consistent with the following management principles:
    • Maximizing pollution prevention as the first course of action;
    • Reusing or recycling waste that cannot be prevented; and
    • Maximizing energy efficiency within the print shop.
  • Seek continuous environmental improvement through periodic assessments of operations, materials and products, and by drawing on information and ideas from employees, print buyers, suppliers, and neighbors.

The Role of Printers' Suppliers and Distributors: Empowering the Printer as Customer

The Great Printers Project recommends that printers, suppliers, and distributors work together to seek out environmentally superior materials, chemicals, and equipment to produce high-quality print jobs. Inadequate information makes it difficult for printers to choose environmentally preferable alternatives.

The Role of Government Regulators: Creating a Pollution Prevention-Friendly Regulatory Framework

The Great Printers Project recommends that USEPA and its state regulatory partners should:

  • present printers with reporting and permitting requirements stated in a way that minimizes redundancy and confusion, is conducive to preventing pollution, and can be understood by an intelligent businessperson who is not expert in environmental matters;
  • clarify how findings from voluntarily-performed and state-performed compliance and pollution prevention assessments will or will not be used; and
  • create a level playing field through more efficient enforcement, as an incentive to printers to go beyond compliance.

The Role of Government and Private Assistance Programs: Providing Printers with Easy Access to Coordinated, Industry-Specific Finance and Technical Assistance

Making technical and financial assistance and regulatory information more accessible to small businesses is a critical step toward integrating pollution prevention into the printing industry. The goal should be to seamlessly deliver a comprehensive array of services that fully integrates pollution prevention, financing, and technical assistance. Toward that end, the Great Printers Project recommends that

  • a national resource center be established to provide reliable, up-to-date information specifically for the printing industry;
  • delivery of services to small printers be better coordinated and packaged to minimize the number of calls and time spent by printers to obtain financing and technical assistance; and
  • the printing industry associations should aggressively market these upgraded services.

Printing, like most industrial activities; uses a variety of materials and potentially hazardous chemicals, requires energy, and aggregate impact on the environment of all them together is substantial. Many opportunities exist to lesson the impact of printing on the environment, while increasing the competitiveness of the individual printer through pollution prevention.

The Great Printers Project seeks to influence factors, usually beyond the control of the average printing business, which can constrain the business' environmental decisions. It focuses on changing those factors that lead the business away from preventing pollution at the source. The project focuses especially on customer demands, regulatory requirements, and access to technology and financial resources.

Efforts are under way in each partner state to designate printing companies as "Great Printers". For more information about becoming a designated Great Printer and the added benefits contact Debra Jacobson at 630.472.5019 or the state partners.

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