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External Projects

Great Printers Project


In 1991, under the direction of Governors Arne Carlson of Minnesota, John Engler of Michigan, and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, the Great Printers Project was initiated as a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and the Printing Industries of America. The project’s goal was to establish pollution prevention as a standard business practice in the lithographic printing industry. In 1994, project partners published a set of recommendations that challenge every participant in the printing process to proactively consider the environmental impacts of printing operations. To date, nearly 400 printers have signed on as environmentally-sound “Great Printers.” Since 1995, the pilot states of Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota have been continuing the Great Printers program and coordinating their individual efforts.

The project brought together representatives from government, industry, labor, and environmental groups to focus on the common objectives of environmental protection and economic strength. In 1994, the initial 37-member project team signed a commitment to making pollution prevention the primary choice of the Great Lakes states' lithographic printing industry in meeting and exceeding its environmental and human health protection responsibilities and to recasting the current approach to environmental policy. They recommended the following specific actions:

  • Printers should voluntarily adopt the Great Printing Principles which include: complying with applicable environmental, health, and safety laws; going beyond compliance; and seeking continuous environmental improvement.
  • Print Buyers should work with printers to reduce the environmental and worker health impacts of their printing requests.
    Print Suppliers/Distributors should work with printers to identify and sell environmentally superior chemicals and equipment that can produce high-quality jobs.
  • Regulators should create a pollution prevention friendly regulatory framework that better communicates environmental and worker health goals and consolidates all requirements into an easy-to-use information and reporting system.
  • Technical and Financial Assistance Programs should provide printers with easy access to industry-specific technical and financial assistance.


Launched four state pilot partnerships of printers, environmental groups, state regulatory agencies and technical assistance providers in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Created enrollment programs to educate printers about the project and to acknowledge and support printers who commit to adopt the Great Printing Principles.

Developed a model simplified reporting system that helps a printer easily understand their compliance status and how to prevent pollution.

Established the  Printers National Environmental Assistance Center, a resource center available via the internet that provides reliable, up-to-date information specifically for the printing industry.

For more information:

 Printers' National Assistance Center--Great Printers Project


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