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Environmental Progress - Winter 1996

Voluntary Pollution Reduction Goal For Partners in Great Printers Project

Illinois EPA, Industry, Environmental Groups Join Forces in Unique Partnership

In a unique partnership to voluntarily reduce pollution in the state's largest single manufacturing sector, the printing industry has joined with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups to launch the Great Printers Project.

"By using environmentally friendly materials and practices and identifying wastes that can be prevented or reduced, great printers end up saving money on production costs and reducing potential environmental liabilities," said Illinois EPA Director Mary Gade, at a September news conference launching the program.

Illinois EPA's own print shop was among the first to sign up.

[Jim Wicklander]The Illinois EPA's own print shop was among the first to sign up for the program; additional state print shops and vendors to state agencies are being recruited. More than 80 printers attended the first series of 10 Great Printers workshops around the state this fall. A goal of enrolling at least 125 Great Printers in Illinois has been set by the co-sponsors.

The news conference to launch the effort was held at Wicklander Printing in Chicago. President Jim Wicklander has a longtime record of proactively responding to environmental challenges, championing the use of recycled papers and soy-based inks, and alcohol-free processes.

"We're proud of the work we've done to improve our environmental performance. The Illinois Great Printers Project will help our industry take similar steps and it lets the public know we care," Wicklander said.

"We know most printers want to do the right thing."

"We know that most printers want to do the right thing. The Great Printers Project helps them improve their environmental performance and recognizes those printers who go the extra mile in preventing pollution," said Jim Reinhardt, president of the Printing Industry of Illinois, the trade association co-sponsoring the initiative.

Some printers had already taken part in a pilot "Clean Break" program.

Gov. Jim Edgar issued a proclamation declaring Great Printers Day in Illinois. He noted the industry contributes $10 billion annually to the Illinois economy, and added "participation in the Great Printers Project is a smart and environmentally sound business decision that minimizes potential harm to human health and the environment while often improving the bottom line."

The governor hailed the "Great Printing Principles," that include maximum reduction of waste, recycling, maximum energy efficiency, and continuously monitoring processes for maximum pollution prevention.

Printers demonstrating they do more than just comply with existing environmental law will receive certificates they can display to customers and potential suppliers.

The Illinois EPA has already been working with many printing firms through a pilot program for its Clean Break outreach to small businesses. Jeannette Jones of Consolidated Printing of Chicago also spoke at the September news conference and cited the benefits of her firm's participation in Clean Break.

Gade said the Great Printers Project will build on the Clean Break experience and cited examples of printers who have already taken steps to reduce waste and have saved on production costs at the same time.

There are nearly 4,000 printing firms in the state, many of them small operations. Gade said they are run by "good, hard-working citizens who care about the environment," but who may be hindered by a lack of information.

Gade said the Great Printers Project is also important because of the potential environmental impact of print shops, particularly on air quality from the release of volatile organic compounds from inks and solvents contributing to the formation of smog. In addition, they can create large volumes of garbage and hazardous waste that can clog our landfills or harm our drinking water, she added.

Other sponsors of the initiative include the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs and the Hazardous Waste Research and Information Center.

Additional information on participation in the Great Printers Project may be obtained by calling Tom Wallin of the Illinois EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention at 217-785-8387 or Eva Kim of the Printing Industry of Illinois at 312-704-5000.

Photo: Jim Wicklander, President of Wicklander Printing in Chicago, talks about the Grat Printers program.

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