California sues Walmart for alleged improper disposal of e-waste and other hazardous materials

Last week, the California attorney general and 12 state officials filed a lawsuit against Walmart, saying it illegally disposed of electronic and hazardous waste, compromising local landfills.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta alleges in a statement the company violated state environmental laws with its practices and that the waste included materials such as lithium and alkaline batteries, killer sprays, insects, spray cans, LED bulbs, etc.

State investigators conducted 58 inspections in 13 counties from 2015 to 2021 and said they found classified hazardous and medical waste in each store’s trash compactors, along with customer information that should have been rendered indecipherable. . The California DOJ estimates that Walmart’s illegally disposed waste totals 159,600 pounds, or more than one million items each year.

“We have met with the state on several occasions to explain our industry-leading hazardous waste compliance programs in an effort to avoid litigation, but instead they filed this unwarranted lawsuit,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said in a statement. “The state requires a level of compliance regarding the disposal of waste from our stores of common household products and other items that goes beyond what is required by law. We intend to defend this company.

Hargrove said compaction waste audits “conducted or supervised by the California Attorney General have shown that compaction waste contains at most 0.4% elements of potential concern”, comparing it to the average of 3% statewide.

This is not the first time that Walmart has argued with the state over its alleged waste practices. In 2010, Walmart reached a $ 25 million settlement with the California attorney general’s office for illegal hazardous waste disposal.

Hargrove said the court was “prepared to release Walmart from its obligations” from its 2010 settlement, but “the attorney general’s office has launched a new investigation with new rules in hopes that Walmart will reach another settlement requiring a other substantial financial payment. ”

The company also paid Missouri $ 125 million in 2012 for a similar incident and pleaded guilty in 2013 to negligently discharging a pollutant into the sewers of 16 California counties, the Associated press reported.

“Despite repeated enforcements against Walmart over the past two decades, it consistently and consciously fails to follow California environmental protection laws,” said director Meredith Williams of the Department of Toxic Substances Control. in California in the press release.

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