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For information about the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, contact:
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Toll free: 855-889-3021


There are a number of state and federal regulations that affect the printing industry in Wisconsin. The Small Business Environmental Assistance Program (SBEAP) has created these resources for printers, including fact sheets and training videos on rules and requirements, forms required by certain agencies and a comprehensive compliance assistance tool called the Environmental Results Program (ERP) for printers in Wisconsin, which was developed in collaboration with the DNR and industry representatives.

Environmental regulatory information and resources

Many regulations affect printers, which include air pollution, hazardous waste, wastewater, storm water, spill response, spill prevention, emergency planning and communication, pollution prevention and EPA and OSHA requirements.

Wisconsin created an Environmental Results Program (ERP) for printers to assist with the understanding of environmental and safety topics affecting printers. The ERP includes a workbook with plain-language explanations of the rules. It also has a checklist to complete a self-assessment. If you go to the ERP webpage, scroll down to the section ERP Materials for links to each section, which includes air, waste, wastewater discharge, storm water runoff, spills, Emergency Response (EPCRA), and pollution prevention.

Waste management

Before disposing of any waste, printers should evaluate whether a waste is hazardous or nonhazardous. Review Waste Determinations and Recordkeeping (WA-1152) [PDF] to understand the process. Once a waste determination is complete, a printer should follow the requirements based on the amount of hazardous waste generated. The DNR waste program provides a Quick Reference Guide (WA-1821) [PDF] to help generators understand the basic requirements for their category.

A change in EPA regulations on disposal of rags and wipes used for cleaning has been included in state code. To help explain the requirements, DNR issued an updated policy guidance document on Management of Solvent-Contaminated Wipes (WA-1207) [PDF].

There are a number of materials banned from Wisconsin landfills, which printers should look for ways to recycle or reuse. The DNR webpage What to recycle in Wisconsin has a number of helpful resources.

Air pollution

A printer may be required to have an air pollution control permit or the printer may be exempt from air pollution control permitting. Review permit exemptions at air permit exemptions.

If a printer does not fit into the exemption categories available, there are two streamlined air pollution permit options specifically designed for printers: registration permits (ROP) and general permits (GOP). Registration permits are designed for smaller printers whereas general permits are available for any size facility.

  • Registration permits have pre-established conditions and are issued within 15 days. The permit allows for construction as long as the emission thresholds in the permit continue to be met. There is a yearly fee associated with the ROP.
  • General permits are more specific to the printing regulations and apply to all sizes of printing facilities. The permits have pre-established conditions for construction. The permit is issued within 15 days.┬áThe permit has annual fees based on the source type and amount emitted from the source. There are different types of General permits that apply to specific printing devices and can be combined for one facility. There are 5 press types for printers, which include screen, digital, heatset web, non-heatset web and sheet-fed. There are 3 printer source types depending on the amount of air pollution emissions per criteria pollutant which are:
    • minor source (less than 100 tons per year);
    • synthetic minor (emission limit of 99 tons per year or 80 tons per year); and
    • major which also is known as Title V (greater than 100 tons per year).

For more details on the ROP and GOP, go to the air permit options page.

Air rules affecting printers

Regulatory tools for air rules

Water quality requirements

Water quality can impact a number of 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 be sure they have the proper permits. Printers that discharge into groundwater or surface water will need to 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 surface and groundwater from any runoff that is contaminated by the printing activities or materials stored outside on the property. If the facility does not qualify for a No Exposure Certificate, then an industrial storm water discharge permit is needed. Review the requirements for runoff permits on the Industrial storm water permit overview page.

Resource documents

Last revised: Monday July 30 2018