Retail major Walmart has been sued by the California Attorney General and 12 state district attorneys in the US, over its alleged improper disposal of electronic and hazardous waste, compromising local landfills.
Over the past six years, Walmart is alleged to have violated California's environmental laws and regulations by disposing of hazardous waste products at local landfills that are not equipped or authorised to receive this type of waste.
The waste includes alkaline and lithium batteries, insect killer sprays and other pesticides, aerosol cans, toxic cleaning supplies, electronic waste, latex paints, and LED light bulbs, as well as confidential customer information.
"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. From there, these products may seep into the state's drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta.
"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," he said in a statement.
In 2010, the California Attorney General's Office reached a $25 million settlement against Walmart for illegally disposing of hazardous waste.
Despite the injunctive terms Walmart agreed to as part of the settlement, inspections beginning in 2015 found that Walmart was continuing to conduct operations in California in violation of state laws.
From 2015 to 2021, California investigators conducted 58 inspections across 13 counties of trash compactors taken from Walmart stores. In each and every single case, they found dozens of items classified as hazardous waste, medical waste, and/or customer records with personal information.
"Yet instead of trying to come into compliance with the law, Walmart claims that its corporate sustainability achievements and its past criminal and civil penalty payments fulfil its compliance responsibilities," said the Attorney General.
Attorney General Bonta is joined by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the district attorneys of Alameda, Fresno, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Solano, Tulare, and Yolo counties in filing the lawsuit. (IANS)