The state of California is suing Walmart, alleging the corporation illegally dumped hazardous waste at local landfills.
Among the items the state said Walmart illegally dumped were alkaline batteries, lithium batteries, insect killer sprays, aerosol cans, toxic cleaning supplies, electronic waste, latex paints, LED light bulbs and confidential customer information.
Led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the state claims over the past six years, Walmart’s disposal of waste was in violation of the Hazardous Waste Control Law, the Medical Waste Management Act, the Customer Personal Information Law and the Unfair Competition Law.
“Walmart’s own audits found that the company is dumping hazardous waste at local landfills at a rate of more than one million items each year,” Attorney General Bonta said in a media release, Monday. “From there, these products may seep into the state’s drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases. When one person throws out a battery or half-empty hairspray bottle, we may think that it’s no big deal. But when we’re talking about tens of thousands of batteries, cleaning supplies, and other hazardous waste, the impact to our environment and our communities can be huge.”
The state said it investigated Walmart’s dumping process from 2015 to 2021, conducting 58 inspections of store trash compactors in 13 different counties and every time finding products that they deemed “hazardous.”
California officials have sued Walmart over its waste procedures before, reaching a $25 million settlement in 2010 for “illegally disposing of hazardous waste.”
Walmart said it has shown the state, and specifically Attorney General Bonta, its waste programs and have met the requirements since the 2010 settlement, accruing no fines for violations through nearly 4,000 inspections.
“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,” Walmart said in a statement to L.A. Weekly, Monday. “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.”
The company added that the waste inspected by the state makes up 0.4% of “items of concern,” saying they are “far cleaner” when compared to the 3% statewide average.