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Printing For A Cleaner Future – External Solar Rebate Program

The Wisconsin Printing Industry Charter presents a Solar Group Rebate Program provided to WI printers. The rebate is based on total kilowatts (kW) of solar panels contracted by December 31, 2021. More information available at: Solar Group Rebate Program for Wisconsin.

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 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 Enviro-Check program. Before beginning to use the checklist, the owner should contact DNR to determine if they are eligible to use the Enviro–Check 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 Enviro–Check 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

The 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. The 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 the DNR that streamlines environmental requirements and encourages implementation of new environmental technologies. The 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.

Charter promotes transition to solar

A Solar Group Rebate Program is available to Wisconsin-based printers through a partnership made possible by the members of the Green Tier Printing Industry Charter. The program provides a rebate to participants based on the total kilowatt (kW) of solar panels to be installed with contracts signed by December 31, 2021. Wisconsin printers with NAICS codes starting with 262, 323, or 5111 are eligible for this rebate. More information is available at: Solar Group Rebate Program for Wisconsin.


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.

Following 2020 revisions of the Wisconsin Administrative Code for hazardous waste requirements, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, PRINTING United Alliance and the Great Lakes Graphics Association developed the Wisconsin Hazardous Waste Regulations webinar series. View recorded webinars or register for upcoming webinars at the links below:

The following written resources will may also help in understanding the requirements associated with your hazardous waste management requirements:

  • Review Waste Determinations and Recordkeeping (WA–1152) to understand the process and how to classify wastes under the regulations
  • Once a waste determination is complete, a printer should follow the requirements based on the amount of hazardous waste generated. The DNR's waste program provides a Quick Reference Guide (WA–1821) to help generators understand the basic requirements for their category.
  • If you collect hazardous waste near the point of generation, be sure to follow the appropriate Satellite Accumulation Requirements (WA–1858) for hazardous waste management.
  • 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, the DNR issued an updated policy guidance document on Management of Solvent-Contaminated Wipes (WA–1207)
  • Additional information can be found in the Solid and Hazardous Waste Chapter of the Printer ERP Environmental Compliance Assistance Workbook.
  • 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.
  • The Wisconsin Recycling Markets Directory offers information about outlets to recycle different materials. To find a facility that takes your materials, first select the material in the box on the left with broad categories – it will show "batteries" as first category on the list. Then select the subcategory in the box on the right to refine the list of facilities further.
    • Let's say you have plastic film you want to recycle rather than send to a landfill. In the left box, select "plastics". In the right box, select the most appropriate type – whether its "film/bags (HDPE & LDPE)" or "stretch/shrink wrap" that best describes your plastic film materials.
    • Then contact the locations on the list to see whether they take your specific materials and in what amounts.
    • You can sort the list by location to find someone closer to your facility by clicking on the column headers in the table for city, county and state.
    • The list is not all encompassing and new facilities are being added all the time. If you don’t find something you need now, check back later.

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), 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 Registration permits for more details.

Registration permits has a number of resources to help you apply for the ROP-C and links to the forms requested by the Air Program. A resource created by the SBEAP, Supporting Documentation for Type C ROP Compliance Status (SB-010) , is available to help a facility understand how to demonstrate compliance with the permit conditions and also to prepare to complete the annual permit compliance certification in Form 4530-178 due March 1 each year. (This due date is effective in 2021, to certify compliance for the 2020 calendar year. The due date was changed in the newly revised ROP-C, previously due June 30.) To learn more about the ROP-C, view the webinar provided by the Great Lakes Graphics Association. [Video]

Printers with low emissions may 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. More details on the exemptions available are found on the Exemptions page; and the rules are 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 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 storm water 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 No Exposure in this printer specific fact sheet (SB-021). Learn more about filing a storm water Notice of Intent to obtain either a discharge permit or No Exposure exemption by viewing the Storm Water webinar hosted by Great Lakes Graphics Association. More details on storm water runoff permits are 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:

Sustainability Webinars

The DNR and Great Lakes Graphics Association partnered to put on webinars to help printing businesses improve their sustainability efforts. You can watch the webinars here:

Additional resources