PNEAC Fact Sheet
Pollution Prevention: Working with Suppliers
By Todd MacFadden and Michael P. Vogel, Ed.D.

Commercial Printing

Suppliers and vendors are usually the first place printers go for technical advice or troubleshooting. But this does not necessarily mean that suppliers and vendors have all the right answers, or necessarily even the right products for you. There are thousands of suppliers in this region. There is no reason you should settle for a given supplier just because of proximity. Some printers find that working with out-of-state suppliers is more appropriate for them.

By the same token, local suppliers can be knowledgeable and adaptive provided that you ­ their customers ­ create a demand for a given service. The fact sheets in this packet provide a wide variety of pollution prevention suggestions. Some of the techniques or process modifications highlighted are leading edge technologies that some supplier may not yet be familiar with. By working closely with suppliers locally and far away, you will be better informed, and suppliers and vendors will have incentives to adapt their product lines and services to meet the changing needs of the industry.

The following are general examples of questions printers could ask their suppliers: Does the supplier offer prepress equipment or supplies that reduce chemical use or discharge to the sewers? An example is aqueous (water-based) plate-development chemistry, rather than solvent-based chemistries, to minimize the discharge of certain classes of chemicals to the sewers.

  1. What are the latest advances in desktop publishing and electronic image manipulation?
  2. What opportunities exist for ordering materials in bulk? What agreements can be reached to establish a used container collection and reuse program?
  3. Can suppliers collect and recover waste materials such as spent plates, ink and film?
  4. Does the supplier offer coated paper that does not inhibit recycling of the finished product?
  5. What can be done to reduce the costs of environmentally superior supplies?
  6. How does the supplier keep up-to-date on new products?
  7. Does the supplier seek continual environmental improvements in supplies and equipment?

Trade Associations

Many printers find that trade associations offer important environmental services. In addition to representing the voice of the industry politically, and offering valuable customer service and marketing assistance, many trade associations offer up-to-date, industry-specific environmental information. Moreover, they may be able to help you locate a particular product or supplier. Some of the more well-known trade associations for lithographic printers include:

Printing Industries of America
100 Daingerfield Road
Alexandria, VA 22314
Dr. Thomas Purcell, Director of Environmental Programs
Printing Industries of Virginia
1108 East Main Street, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23219
Robin Worth, President
Printing Industries of Metropolitan Washington
7 West Tower
1333 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
John Hawkins, Executive Vice President
Graphic Arts Technical Foundation
200 Deer Run Road
Sewickley, PA 15143-2600
Gary Jones, Manager, Environmental Info
National Association of Printers and Lithographers
780 Palisades Avenue
Teaneck, NJ 07666
Monica McCabe, Editorial Director
Waterless Printing Association
P.O. Box 59800
Chicago, IL 60645
Arthur LeFebvre, President
National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers
777 Terrace Avenue
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604-3110
James Sutphin, Executive Director
Environmental Conservation Board of the Graphic Comm. Industries
1899 Preston White Drive
Reston, VA 22091
Mark Nuzzaco, Executive Director

Primary Authors

Todd MacFadden
Pollution Prevention Technical Specialist

Michael P. Vogel
Pollution Prevention Director

Ed D.
Pollution Prevention Director

Other PNEAC Contacts

Debra Jacobson
University of Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

Gary Jones
Graphic Arts Technical Foundation

Wayne Pferdehirt
Solid & Hazardous Waste Education Center

Written: June 1996
Updated: July 1, 2011

Produced with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Note: Reasonable effort has been made to review and verify information in this document. Neither PNEAC and it's partners, nor the technical reviewers and their agencies, assume responsibility for completeness and accuracy of the information, or it's interpretation. The reader is responsible for making the appropriate decisions with respect to their operation, specific materials employed, work practices, equipment and regulatory obligations. It is imperative to verify current applicable regulatory requirements with state and/or local regulatory agencies.

© 1996 PNEAC