Walmart Settles Civil Case with State of California

Company Implements Comprehensive Hazardous Waste Program Including Improved: Training Programs, Policies and Procedures

Statement from Phyllis Harris,
Vice President, Environmental Compliance, Walmart U.S.

BACKGROUND

  • Some consumer products that are returned to our stores have to be managed as hazardous waste. This can include anything from damaged nail polish bottles or hair spray cans to leaking household cleaners.
  • These products must be labeled, stored, and shipped using a licensed hauler and sent to a facility licensed to treat and dispose of hazardous waste.
  • California and federal laws generally allow households simply to discard consumer products in their trash cans. However, businesses have a completely different set of requirements.
     
  • California state and local authorities say that Walmart store and club associates improperly managed products considered hazardous waste under California law by discarding these products in the trash.
     
  • The Complaint also says that Walmart associates sent damaged products and spilled materials to Walmart’s return center using an unlicensed hauler. Upon arrival at the return center, Walmart properly disposed of these products.

STATEMENT

"Environmental sustainability is a priority at Walmart, and we take our compliance responsibilities very seriously.

"It's important to note that these incidents happened at least four years ago.

"Since then, we have worked closely with the State of California on a comprehensive hazardous waste plan that includes improved training programs, policies and procedures. This robust environmental compliance initiative is focused on how to safely handle products like these and has been implemented in all of our stores and clubs.

"Examples of the compliance measures we have taken include:

  1. We hired more environmental compliance staff and elevated their positions to higher management levels;
  2. We developed and implemented nearly 50 new environmental compliance standard operating procedures for our stores and clubs;
  3. We clearly identified which consumer products sold in stores and clubs constitute hazardous waste if discarded, and provided this information to store and club associates through handheld terminals and shelf labels;
     
  4. We implemented a hazardous waste management system so that store and club associates properly dispose of regulated items that become waste at the stores and clubs; and
     
  5. We provide enhanced environmental compliance training to all associates in all stores and clubs.

"We’re confident that our current procedures represent a model for hazardous waste management in retail. We’re a better company today as a result of these programs and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to make our environmental compliance programs even stronger in the future."

NOTE: Walmart expects to pay approximately $27 million under the terms of this agreement. Approximately $21 million will go to civil penalties and investigative costs and the company will fund $6 million in supplemental environmental projects. The proposed settlement will not impact the company’s results of operations for the first quarter of fiscal 2011.


# # #