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Tax Credits for Green Printing?

If Print Buyers Online (PBO) has its way, you’ll soon get a tax break for making sustainable choices in your printing.

This week, PBO is introducing legislation that would amend the Internal Revenue Code “to allow print buyers a credit against income tax for the completion of sustainable print projects.”

To be declared “qualified sustainable print,” the project would need to meet 13 of 15 criteria (see below). Even if the legislation does not pass, this is a terrific checklist by which you can measure the sustainability of your own print projects.

(1) The materials used in the print project must be recyclable

(2) The print project cannot include inks that contain heavy metals, such as metallics and fluorescents, scratch off devices, foils, plastic polystyrenes and/or polyesters

(3) The print project must contain verbiage that encourages the reader to recycle the printed piece

(4) The print project must contain verbiage that allows prospects/customers to opt-out from further printed communications

(5) The paper or substrate must contain more than 25% post-consumer waste for coated paper stock and 50% post-consumer waste for uncoated paper stock

(6) The paper or substrate must be legally harvested

(7) The print project must not use paper or substrates from endangered forests or areas of high conservation value

(8) The paper or substrate must be produced Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) or Process Chlorine Free (PCF)

(9) The paper or substrate must be certified by a credible third-party chain-of-custody certifier, such as The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

(10) The ink, coating, laminates and/or adhesives must emit no more than 2% volatile organic compounds (VOC) for sheetfed printing, no more than 30% VOCs for heatset web printing, no more than 10%t VOCs for cold-set web printing and no more than 5% VOCs for flexographic printing

(11) If a coating is applied to the print project, the coating must not be either a UV cured ink or a film laminate

(12) If a print project is 96 pages or less and is bound as a book, the book will be bound as saddle stitched rather than perfect bound

(13) Print projects that are mailed via United State Postal Service must contain the +4 extension for zip codes, must be processed for deduping or merge/purge, and must have been updated in the last six (6) months for National Change of Address

(14) The printer who manufactures the print project must not have been fined for violations in the past five years from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), or by state or federal regulators for environmental, health or safety issues

(15) The printer who manufactures the print project must use renewable energy (either directly using wind, solar and/or biogas, which is optimal) or by purchasing renewable energy credits (REC).

In its reporting on this issue, the Dead Tree Edition brought up a number of challenges associated with implementing the legislation as currently worded. (The text of the bill is also reprinted here in its entirety.) Even so, I think this is a handy list for all buyers of printed projects, whether the bill is passed or not.

Image source: The Stock Exchange, uploaded by boogaloo

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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