California sues Walmart over disposal of hazardous waste

Posted at 5:47 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-20 20:47:59-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California prosecutors say retail giant Walmart illegally dumps more 1 million batteries, aerosol cans of insect killer and other products, toxic cleaning supplies, electronic waste, latex paints and other hazardous waste into California landfills each year.

The company called the lawsuit unjustified.

The state attorney general, 12 local prosecutors and the state's hazardous waste regulator sued Walmart on Monday.

Walmart says it has an effective hazardous waste program that is far more efficient than the state average.

The attorney general’s office settled a previous similar lawsuit in 2010 in which Walmart paid $25 million and agreed to stop the dumping into local landfills that are not equipped to contain the hazardous products.

The big box company's statement can be read in full below:

We have met with the state numerous times and walked them through our industry-leading hazardous waste compliance programs in an effort to avoid litigation. Instead, they filed this unjustified lawsuit. The state is demanding a level of compliance regarding waste disposal from our stores of common house-hold products and other items that goes beyond what is required by law. We intend to defend the company.

Walmart is a responsible corporate citizen in California and everywhere we operate. We take our obligation to protect the environment seriously and have industry leading processes in place to comply with local, state and federal environmental laws.

Since 2010, we met the requirements of a court supervised settlement requiring the proper disposal of common consumer products such as lip balm, empty shampoo bottles, aerosol cans, and loose AA batteries. We worked with the California Attorney General, District Attorneys, and the Court to build and maintain our comprehensive hazardous waste compliance programs. In 2018, the Court agreed “that Walmart had done so close to everything that's required that nothing more can be required...” Yet, as the Court was prepared to relieve Walmart of its obligations under the settlement, the Attorney General’s office launched a new investigation with new rules in hopes that Walmart would enter another settlement requiring another substantial financial payment.

California regulators have conducted more than 3,800 environmental inspections of our stores since 2010 and have not imposed any fines on Walmart for violations of California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law, demonstrating the effectiveness of our hazardous waste programs. Audits of our compactor waste conducted or overseen by the California Attorney General have shown the waste in our compactors contain at most 0.4% of items of potential concern they’ve identified. The statewide average is 3% based on a CalRecycle statewide solid waste study, so Walmart’s compactors are far cleaner than the state average.