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Check
to see if your business is eligible for confidential, non-regulatory assistance.
Explore
all DNR permits to see which may be required.
Find
resources to help you comply.
Contact information
For information about the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, contact:
Small Business Helpline
Toll free: 855-889-3021
DNRSmallBusiness@wisconsin.gov

Printers

The Printer Portal is the DNR’s tool for information on environmental compliance and sustainability resources for the printing industry.

The printing industry is vital to Wisconsin's economy and a leader in innovation and environmental sustainability. The DNR has partnered with the trade associations representing the printing industry as well as individual printing operations to create innovative and streamlined methods for meeting environmental regulations that enhance environmental protection and reward environmental stewardship. The result: new and exciting opportunities to help make Wisconsin an environmentally responsible "green" printing state and meet the growing demand for sustainable printing options.

Explore the portal and contact the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP) by email or call toll free 855-889-3021 with questions.

Environmental

Environmental regulatory information and resources

There are numerous state and federal regulations that affect the printing industry and include those addressing air pollution, hazardous waste, wastewater, storm water, spill response, spill prevention, emergency planning and community right-to-know.

In some instances, printing operations are required to obtain one or more permits to legally operate. The DNR Permit Primer is resource that walks the user through each of DNR’s regulatory and permit programs and will identify which apply to the facility’s operations.

To provide a consolidated resource that addresses both DNR and U.S. EPA requirements affecting printers, DNR created the Environmental Results Program (ERP).

The Printer ERP includes a workbook with plain-language explanations of the rules. It also has a checklist for facilities to complete a self-evaluation of their compliance with the requirements. Currently, printers can use the ERP self-evaluation in two ways:

  1. A printer may go through the workbook and self-evaluation checklist and make changes as appropriate to help improve the business’ environmental performance. There are many pollution prevention recommendations that can help save time and money. In this case, the owner would retain the forms for their records and not submit to DNR.
  2. If a facility would like to proactively verify that their operations meet all environmental requirements, they may be eligible for limited liability by self-reporting through DNR’s Environmental Compliance Audit Program. Before beginning to use the checklist, the owner should contact DNR to determine if they are eligible to use the Compliance Audit Program. If eligible, the ERP self-evaluation form could be used to conduct a self-audit. Once completed, the facility should follow the program requirements and submit the audit findings to DNR. However, if DNR has already found issues with facility operations in one or more programs, they may have limited ability to use the Compliance Audit program.

ERP materials

Review the Printer Compliance Assistance Workbook Decision Tree first to determine if the ERP is the right resource for the operation. Operators may need to refer to the introduction section below for assistance on some questions.

Wisconsin Pilot Printer ERP

Wisconsin completed a pilot Printer ERP project in 2009 under a State Innovation Grant and the results were submitted to USEPA in a report: Printing Sector Environmental Results Program Evaluation.

Green Tier

Green Tier participation

DNR’s Green Tier program program provides a framework for innovative companies who not only want to meet minimum requirements, but are also committed to moving beyond compliance in order to improve their environmental performance and green bottom line. DNR’s Green Tier program provides a variety of benefits and recognition for businesses aspiring to differentiate themselves through continuous improvement that yields results. Green Tier is based on a collaborative system of contracts and charters crafted jointly by participating businesses and DNR that streamlines environmental requirements and encourages implementation of new environmental technologies. DNR and Wisconsin’s printing industry joined forces to create a Green Tier Charter to foster additional collaboration that helps printers reduce risks, streamline operations and cut costs. The charter also allows printing operations to seamlessly become certified under both Green Tier and the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership, the leading non-profit accreditation that promotes sustainability in printing practices and manufacturing operations.

Waste

Waste management requirements

All printing operations generate waste. Before disposing of any waste, printers are required to evaluate and classify those wastes to determine whether the waste is hazardous or nonhazardous. Wastes that are hazardous must be properly managed and disposed. The amount of waste generated determines your regulatory requirements. There are three generator categories, and the following resources will help in understanding the requirements associated with your hazardous waste management requirements:

Air pollution

Air pollution

A printing operation may be required to have an air pollution control permit or meet specific regulations designed to reduce air pollution emissions. For help determining whether a facility is exempt from certain regulations or from the need to obtain a permit, or if a permit is required, whether the facility may qualify for a streamlined permitting option, review the Introduction and Air Chapter in the Printer ERP Environmental Compliance Assistance Workbook.

Permits for printers

The Type C Registration Permit (AM-379) [PDF], or ROP-C, is designed specifically for printers. Facilities must have emissions below 25 percent of the major source threshold for criteria pollutants and below 50 percent of the major source threshold for hazardous air pollutants, along with meeting the other eligibility criteria established in the permit. Go to the Air Permit Options page for more details.

Printers with low emissions may also be exempt from the requirement to get an air permit. Any "graphic arts operations, including associated cleaning operations" with emissions less than 1,666 pounds of VOCs in any month, before taking into account a control device, and hazardous air pollutant emissions below major source levels is exempt. This is spelled out in both NR 406.04 and NR 407.03 of Wisconsin Administrative Code.

Air rules affecting printers

The DNR’s Air Program and the SBEAP have compiled several resources and tools to help printers understand air rules that might apply to their operations.

Water

Water quality requirements

Water quality can impact several aspects of a printing operation. Inside the plant, if any wastewater is discharged from a process into a sewer system, the printer should work with the local municipality's wastewater treatment plant to ensure that the discharge limits are being met and if any permits are required.

Printers that discharge into groundwater or surface water (meaning onto the land and/or into a waterbody, or where it could flow to a waterbody) will work with DNR to obtain the appropriate permit under the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES).

A printing operation is also responsible to protect the quality of the stormwater that runs off its facilities. Printing operations must either file for a No Exposure Certificate, or obtain an industrial storm water discharge permit. Review the requirements for runoff permits on the Industrial storm water permit overview page.

For more details on the water requirements for printers, review the Wastewater and Storm water chapters of the Printer ERP Environmental Compliance Assistance Workbook.

Online resources

Environmental reporting and/or applications

Printing facilities may be required to file permit applications or other reports to multiple parts of the DNR and other agencies to meet their environmental obligations. The majority of the applications and reports are required to be submitted electronically. To help simplify the process, we have compiled links to the different electronic filing systems here:

Last revised: Friday September 27 2019