Less Pollution, Less Paperwork
A green printing initiative is having an impact beyond the environment. It's cleaning up the desks of printers, saving them time and money. And that could mean greater success for environmental programs overall.
In Missouri and ultimately other states, mountains of paperwork required by environmental regulators are being replaced by a single, basic form. Cutting out the red tape: a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pilot program called PrintSTEP, the Printer's Simplified Total Environmental Partnership.
Missouri's stab at PrintSTEP resulted in a single compliance form that covers reporting for all regulatory agencies. The pilot effort took state and federal regulators, participating printers, environmental and other stakeholders two years to complete. But the resulting form took a local printer just 90 minutes to fill out.
"The printing industry has had its share of pollution issues, and the regulations have become tougher," says George Lestina, owner of IPC Graphics, a 15 employee print shop in Manchester, Mo. "The tough part is dealing with so many different [regulatory] entities, which means a lot of gray areas."
IPC Graphics is one of 11 printers in the St. Louis area participating in the PrintSTEP pilot. Lestina, who is also chairman of the local printers' trade association, says the PrintSTEP form could simplify all that. "I think the progress has been tremendous," he says.
It's a stark contrast to the raft of paperwork, much of it duplicated, required by environmental regulators before PrintSTEP. Monitoring agencies at the municipal, state, and federal levels have different regulations, reporting requirements, inspections, and forms to fill out.
MULTIPLE GOALS, BENEFITS
But dramatically reduced paperwork is just one program goal. Fostering a consultative dialogue between printers and regulators is the other. For example, two PrintSTEP participants were being erroneously flagged as large-quantity generators of hazardous materials. That meant even more paperwork and possible penalties.