California has sued Walmart Inc. for allegedly dumping hazardous waste in local landfills, including toxic cleaning supplies, pesticides, and batteries.
State Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a charge against the retailer for illegally disposing of waste at more than 300 stores since 2015.
Walmart called the lawsuit “unjustified,” claiming that the state is demanding waste disposal compliance that goes above and beyond what is necessary by law.
On the complaint, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, California’s top attorney joined the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control and 12 California district attorneys.
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, according to the statement.
According to Bonta, official inspections in 2015 revealed that Walmart continued to improperly dispose waste despite a $25 million settlement with the state in 2010 for waste management.
From 2015 to 2021, California investigators conducted 58 inspections across 13 counties of trash compactors taken from Walmart stores, according to a statement from Bonta’s office. In each and every single case, they found dozens of items classified as hazardous waste, medical waste, and/or customer records with personal information.
California also accused Walmart of failing to protect personal customer information in breach of consumer privacy laws, in addition to seeking damages under waste disposal regulations.
Since 2010, Walmart has worked with the court and local prosecutors to develop and maintain comprehensive hazardous waste compliance programs, according to the company.
We are not talking about a few batteries and a can of insect killer here, Bonta said at a press conference. Walmart’s own audits found that the company is illegally disposing of hazardous waste in California at a rate of over more than 1 million items each year. Bonta said the discarded products can seep into the state’s drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases.
According to the company’s statement, the court agreed in 2018 that “Walmart had done so close to everything that’s required that nothing more can be required,” but the attorney general’s office “launched a new investigation with new rules in the hopes that Walmart would enter another settlement requiring another substantial financial payment.”