As Dead Tree Edition reported last month in Federal Subsidy For Green Printing To Be Proposed, Print Buyers Online revealed the proposed legislation at a conference this week as scheduled. (See full text of the bill below.)
The legislation would be good news for paper mills using recycled fiber and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative but bad news for big printers and overseas paper manufacturers.
To be declared "a qualified sustainable print project" must meet 13 of 15 criteria, including (with my comments in Italics):
- "The materials used in the print project must be recyclable." (All of the materials? Can ink be considered recyclable if paper has to be de-inked before being recycled?)
- "The print project must contain verbiage that encourages the reader to recycle the printed piece." (That's a no-brainer for direct mail, publications, and cereal boxes. But it's trickier for printed products that don't contain words, like wallpaper, vinyl flooring, and electronic circuits.)
- "The print project must contain verbiage that allows prospects/customers to opt-out from further printed communications." (How do you opt out of receiving a cardboard box? There needs to be a distinction between something meant for paying customers and one meant for prospects.)
- "The paper or substrate must contain over 25 percent post-consumer waste for coated paper stock and 50 percent post-consumer waste for uncoated paper stock." (That will be tough for overseas paper mills because the U.S. is one of the few countries that distinguishes between pre-consumer and post-consumer waste.)
- "The paper or substrate must be produced Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) or Process Chlorine Free (PCF)."
- "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)." (Putting SFI on the same footing as FSC will not go over well with groups like Greenpeace and ForestEthics.)
- "The ink, coating, laminates and/or adhesives must emit no more than 2 percent volatile organic compounds (VOC) for sheet-fed printing, no more than 30 percent VOCs for heat-set web printing, no more than 10 percent VOCs for cold-set web printing and no more than five 5 percent VOCs for flexographic printing." (What about other printing processes, like inkjet and rotogravure? And does "emit" refer to what comes off the press or what escapes from the building?)
- "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." (Interesting. I don't recall seeing any discussion of saddle vs. perfect in articles about green printing.)
- "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." (I'm guessing a lot of the big multi-plant printers have received an OSHA fine at one of their plants in the past five years.)
But there's something to be said for trying to define what environmentally friendly printing is, even if the first draft is a bit rough. I wonder if some day environmental groups will press corporations about the inks, binding methods, and opt-out provisions they use in their printed materials instead of just focusing on the source of the paper.
Here is the text of the bill in its entirety:
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow print buyers a credit against income tax for the completion of sustainable print projects.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE
This Act may be cited as the “Print Buyer’s Reduction in Taxes Bill of 2010 (PRINT).”
SEC.2. CREDIT AGAINST INCOME TAX FOR THE PRODUCTION OF QUALIFIED SUSTAINABLE PRINT PROJECTS
(a) In General – Subpart D of Section IV of subchapter A of Chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to business related credits), as amended by this Act, is amended by adding at the end of the following new section:
“SEC. 45R. NEW SUSTAINABLE PRINT PROJECT CREDIT
“(a) GENERAL RULE.— For purposes of Section 38, the new sustainable print project tax credit determined under this section for the taxable year is an amount equal to the state sales tax paid by a print buyer for a qualified sustainable print project.
“(b) LIMITATIONS.—The credit allowed by subsection (a) for a single print buyer may not exceed 25 percent of the federal income tax owed by the print buyer for the taxable year.
(1) To qualify for the credit a print buyer must spend $100,000 or above on general print projects in the taxable year.
“(c) DEFINITIONS.—For the purposes of this section—
“(1) PRINT BUYER.—The term ‘print buyer’ means an organization that finds and manages outside resources such as printing, finishing, mailing and specialty printing; communicates specifications and expectations for print projects; purchases print projects; creates and maintains contractual agreements with print suppliers; ensures quality tolerances; and ensures that projects deliver on time at an acceptable price.
“(2) QUALIFIED SUSTAINABLE PRINT PROJECT.—The term ‘qualified sustainable print project’ means a job procured by a print buyer
“(A) the production of which is completed after the date of the enactment of this section,
“(B) which meets the criteria described in paragraph (d) and
“(C) can be certified according to the criteria described in paragraph (e).
“(3) SUBSTRATE.—The term ‘substrate’ means a primary or underlying material (such as paper, plastic, or cloth) on which other materials (such as ink, coating, paint, or treatment) are applied, or from which other materials are made.
“(4) HIGH CONSERVATION VALUE AREA.—The term ‘high conservation value area’ means—
“(A) areas containing globally, regionally or nationally significant concentrations of biodiversity values (e.g. endemism, endangered species, refugia); and/or large landscape-level forests, contained within, or containing the management unit, where viable populations of most if not all naturally occurring species exist in natural patterns of distribution and abundance, or
“(B) areas that are in or contain rare, threatened or endangered ecosystems, or
“(C) areas that provide basic services of nature in critical situations (e.g. watershed protection, erosion control), or
“(D) areas fundamental to meeting basic needs of local communities (e.g. subsistence, health) and/or critical to local communities' traditional cultural identity (areas of cultural, ecological, economic or religious significance identified in cooperation with such local communities).
“(5) HEAVY METALS.—The term ‘heavy metals’ means metals with high molecular weights that are of concern because they are generally toxic to animal life and human health if naturally occurring concentrations are exceeded.
“(6) POST-CONSUMER WASTE (PCW).—The term ‘post-consumer waste’ means the fiber recovered from papers that have been used for their intended end-use, where the waste-producing use did not invoice the production of another product.
“(7) COATING.—The term ‘coating’ or ‘coated’ means a covering that is applied to the surface of the substrate to enhance appearance, adhesion, wetability, corrosion resistance, wear resistance and/or scratch resistance.
“(8) LEGALLY HARVESTED.—The term ‘legally harvested’ means a tree meets the federal requirements put in place by the Lacey Act of 1900 which require a declaration of
“(A) the scientific name of the wood or wood product contained in the importation and,
“(B) the value and quantity of the wood or forest production being imported and,
“(C) the name of the country from which the wood was harvested.
“(9) TOTALLY CHLORINE FREE (TCF).—The term ‘totally chlorine free’ means virgin paper that is unbleached or processed with a sequence that includes no chlorine or chlorine derivatives.
“(10) PROCESS CHLORINE FREE (PCF).—The term ‘process chlorine free’ means recycled paper in which the recycled content is unbleached or bleached without chlorine or chlorine derivatives.
“(11) VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS (VOC).—The term ‘volatile organic compounds’ means toxins that are commonly found in inks, coatings and adhesives in the printing process. VOCs emit dangerous toxic gases into the air.
“(12) SHEET-FED PRINTING.—The term ‘sheet-fed printing’ means a method in which individual pages of paper are fed into a printer, as opposed to continuous rolls of paper used on web presses.
“(13) HEAT SET WEB PRINTING.—The term ‘heat set web printing’ means a printing process in which ink is dried rapidly by forcing-air heating.
“(14) COLD SET WEB PRINTING.—The term ‘cold set web printing’ means a web offset printing process in which ink is allowed to dry naturally through evaporation and absorption.
“(15) FLEXOGRAPHIC PRINTING.—The term ‘flexographic printing’ refers to a machine printing process that utilizes rollers and cylinders with a flexible rubber-like surface that prints with the raised area, much like surface printing, but with much less ink. This means the ink dries quickly and allows the machine to run at high speed.
“(16) UV CURED INK.—The term ‘UV cured ink’ means ink applied to a printed sheet that is bonded and cured with ultraviolet light.
“(17) FILM LAMINATE.—The term ‘film laminate’ means a process where a thin film of laminate is sealed into the substrate.
“(18) SADDLE STITCHING.—The term ‘saddle stitching’ means to bind by stapling the printed piece through the backbone (or center fold). Pages lie flat when the printed piece is open. In general, the maximum number of pages is ninety-six (96) plus cover for saddle stitching depending on the paper stock.
“(19) PERFECT BINDING.—The term ‘perfect binding’ means sheets that are ground at the spine and held together with the cover by glue. Perfect binding is commonly used for catalogs and paperback books and it creates a spine that can be printed on. This process is more economical for higher quantities, in general the minimum number of pages needed for perfect binding is forty-eight (48).
“(20) DEDUPING.—The term ‘deduping’ means a process of removing duplicate entries from mailing lists, resulting in lower costs because it reduces the amount of postage and marketing collateral needed for direct mail campaigns.
“(21) RENEWABLE ENERGY.—The term ‘renewable energy’ means energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished.
“(22) RENEWABLE ENERGY CREDITS.—The term ‘renewable energy credits’ means tradable, non-tangible energy commodities in the United States that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource (renewable electricity).
“(23) TAXABLE YEAR.— The term ‘taxable year’ means the twelve-month period used as the basis for computing tax on income received during that period.
“(d) SUSTAINABILITY REQUIREMENTS.—A qualified sustainable print project meets the sustainability requirements of this subsection if thirteen (13) of the fifteen (15) requirements below are employed by the printers and evidenced to the print buyer—
“(1) The materials used in the print project must be recyclable, and/or
“(2) The print project cannot include inks which contain heavy metals, such as metallics and fluorescents, scratch off devices, foils, plastic polystyrenes and/or polyesters and/or
“(3) The print project must contain verbiage that encourages the reader to recycle the printed piece, and/or
“(4) The print project must contain verbiage that allows prospects/customers to opt-out from further printed communications, and/or
“(5) The paper or substrate must contain over twenty-five (25) percent post-consumer waste for coated paper stock and fifty (50) percent post-consumer waste for uncoated paper stock, and/or
“(6) The paper or substrate must be legally harvested, and/or
“(7) The print project must not use paper or substrates from endangered forests or areas of high conservation value, and/or
“(8) The paper or substrate must be produced Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) or Process Chlorine Free (PCF), and/or
“(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), and/or
“(10) The ink, coating, laminates and/or adhesives must emit no more than two (2) percent volatile organic compounds (VOC) for sheet-fed printing, no more than thirty (30) percent VOCs for heat-set web printing, no more than ten (10) percent VOCs for cold-set web printing and no more than five (5) percent VOCs for flexographic printing, and/or
“(11) If a coating is applied to the print project, the coating must not be either a UV cured ink or a film laminate, and/or
“(12) If a print project is ninety-six (96) pages or less and is bound as a book, the book will be bound as saddle stitched rather than perfect bound, and/or
“(13) Print projects that are mailed via United State Postal Service
“(A) must contain the +4 extension for zip codes
“(B) must be processed for deduping or merge/purge
“(C) must have been updated in the last six (6) months for National Change of Address, and/or
“(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, and/or
“(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).
“(e) CERTIFICATION.—A project shall not be treated as a qualified sustainable print project unless the print buyer submits the relevant invoices and other documents listing the sustainable qualifications to the Internal Revenue Service (at such times and in such a manner as the IRS provides) specifying that the project meets thirteen (13) of the fifteen (15) requirements listed above.
“(f) OTHER RULES
“(1) STATES WITH NO SALES TAX.— In the case of a state with no sales tax the tax credit will be determined at the beginning of each taxable year by taking the average of the state with the lowest sales tax rate, and the state with the highest sales tax rate for the previous taxable year.
“(g) BASIS ADJUSTMENTS- If a credit is determined under this section for any expenditure with respect to any property, the increase in the basis of such property which would (but for this subsection) result from such expenditure shall be reduced by the amount of the credit so allowed.
“(h) TERMINATION—This section shall not apply to any print project completed after December 31, 2016.”.
(b) CREDIT MADE AS PART OF GENERAL BUSINESS CREDIT.—Section 38(b)
(relating to current year business credit), as amended by this Act, is amended by striking “plus” at the end of paragraph (34), by striking the period at the end of paragraph (35) and inserting “,plus”, and by adding at the end of the following new paragraph:
“(36) the New print project sustainability credit determined under section 45R(a).”.
(c) DEDUCTION FOR CERTAIN UNUSED BUSINESS CREDITS.—Section 196(c) (defining qualified business credits) is amended by striking “and” at the end of paragraph (12), by striking the period at the end of paragraph (13) and inserting “,and”, and by adding after paragraph (13) the following new paragraph:
“(14) the New sustainable print project credit determined under section 45R(a).”.
(d) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of sections for subpart D of part IV of subchapter A of chapter 1, as amended by this Act, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
“Sec. 45R. New sustainable print project credit.”.
(e) EFFECTIVE DATE—The amendments made by this section shall apply to print projects completed after ninety (90) days from the date of enactment of this Act.