PrintSTEP: An Innovative Multi-media Regulatory Pilot
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PrintSTEP stands for “Printers’ Simplified Total Environmental Partnership” and is a multi-media alternative to the traditional administration of environmental regulation and permitting. PrintSTEP is intended to simplify the process for implementing these regulations and encourage awareness of environmental requirements within the printing industry. PrintSTEP was designed to meet the following goals:
- Enhance environmental protection
- Increase use of pollution prevention practices
- Improve efficiency of the regulatory process for printers
- Improve efficiency of the regulatory process for state governments
- Enhance public involvement
- Provide motivation for stakeholders to participate in PrintSTEP
To test the PrintSTEP concepts, EPA entered into cooperative agreements with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, which successfully established PrintSTEP pilot programs.
- The achievement of the PrintSTEP goals
- Printers' perspectives on benefits, drawbacks and satisfaction with PrintSTEP
- Recommendations specific to PrintSTEP
- Lessons learned and general recommendations which are applicable to any innovative program to be undertaken in the future.
The Printing sector was one of six industries that participated in an EPA initiative to develop industry sector-based approaches to environmental protection called the Common Sense Initiative. Each sector project was composed of stakeholders from various interest groups (i.e. federal government, state government, environmental, industry, labor, environmental justice) who worked together to develop consensus recommendations for improving environmental management strategies for a particular industrial sector. The Printing sector developed the concept of PrintSTEP through a consensus process.
A multi-stakeholder team was formed to represent the printing sector and examine the current regulatory requirements for the printing industry. The team identified the following problems:
- While printers generally want to be good environmental stewards, even the best intentioned are often daunted by the prospect of having to navigate what can be a confusing maze of air, hazardous waste and industrial wastewater requirements.
- Many small printers have little or no interaction with regulatory agencies, leaving few opportunities to assist them to voluntarily adopt cleaner processes.
- Most printers are small businesses with limited emissions; collectively however they can affect overall environmental quality.
- Where permits are issued, there is a lack of meaningful public involvement even though printers may be seeking permission to increase current emissions.
- Most regulatory programs for printers are organized by environmental media, with separate regulations for emissions to the air, discharges to the water, and management of hazardous waste. This single media approach can result in duplicated effort and inefficiency.
- For printers with permits, operational flexibility is limited, hindering their ability to make process changes and respond to market demands.
- Pollution prevention opportunities are often not realized. The current single-media system discourages identifying opportunities for facility-wide pollution prevention.
- There is little connection made between environmental and worker health and safety issues.
The PrintSTEP pilots were designed to test different approaches to making the regulatory system more effective, transparent and flexible. Printers in the pilot locations could volunteer to participate. The key PrintSTEP elements include:
- Multi-media, modular approach with the level of regulatory
requirements proportional to the level of waste generation
and/or emissions. Participating printers worked with one multi-media coordinator within the state agency.
Enhanced opportunity for public involvement
- Early and actual notice to the surrounding community and "registered interested parties"
- A holistic consideration by the public of facility emissions and wastes generated
- Public meetings held, if requested, to address community
- Plain language tools to assist printers in determining emissions
and their regulatory requirements, including:
- "Translator Tables" and "Equivalency Calculations" are provided which determine the printers' regulatory category for air emissions based on supplies used in the last 12 months and a formula with a safety buffer
- Waste water, storm water and hazardous waste categories are defined so that the printer can easily determine the appropriate regulatory category
- Printing-specific pollution prevention
measures which, if taken, can reduce
emissions and regulatory requirements
- Operational flexibility
- Ability to make certain process modifications without revisions to the permit
- Potential for permit review time to decline as emissions decline
- Public involvement requirements increase as emissions increase
The following products were developed to assist with implementation of the state pilots:
- Guide to States which outlines the goals, features and anticipated benefits of the alternative regulatory system. It also includes an implementation strategy to assist states in defining eligibility requirements, regulatory thresholds, streamlining options, and geographic areas in which to implement pilot projects.
- Printers' Plain Language Workbook which outlines the entire PrintSTEP system and identifies specifically what the printer must do to meet environmental regulatory requirements. This workbook was provided to states as a template to be adapted to meet state-specific needs. After insertion of state specific requirements and information, the workbook is made available to all printers and other interested parties in each state pilot location.
- Community Handbook contains plain language information outlining the PrintSTEP public involvement provisions and explaining how the community, industry and regulators can work together to meet the goals of the PrintSTEP pilots.
For hard copies of the documents, contact Maureen Lydon (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- New Hampshire's PrintSTEP Web page contains information on the statewide pilot.