Better Wise Up For Business Sakes!

Avoiding Fines for Improper Dumping of Hazardous Materials

In September of 2021, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, together with 33 other California District and City Attorneys, reached a settlement for violations of hazardous waste regulations against the beauty company Ulta. The ruling followed an investigation of Ulta stores’ improper storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous and other regulated waste and inadequate employee training. The company has five stores in Contra Costa County and 161 facilities in California.

Under the settlement, the corporation must pay $439,500 in civil penalties, $250,000 in costs and $62,500 in supplemental environmental projects. The company will also be required to implement compliance assurance programs.

The District Attorney Diana Becton said of the ruling: “Companies must be held responsible for business practices that pose a harm to the environment.”

Back in 2013, Walmart was charged $82 million dollars in fines for improperly dumping hazardous waste. In total, Walmart spent over $110 million dollars to resolve the issue. Walmart has since created a compliance office staffed with employees with backgrounds in environmental protection in a move to prevent future fines.

And these cases aren’t isolated incidents. More than 600 Walgreens stores in California were indicted in 2012 for similar violations. Employees were disposing of expired medications, bleach, paint and other hazardous materials. Although Walgreens attempted to transfer blame to their hauling company, a California judge upheld the charges against Walgreens themselves.

This is because the producer of the waste is ultimately responsible for ensuring that their waste – and hazardous waste – is disposed of safely and legally.

What is Hazardous Waste?

According to U.S. environmental policy, hazardous waste is a waste that has the potential to:

  • Cause, or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness; or
  • Pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed.

Many common products used on a daily basis are on the hazardous waste list, such as:

  • Fluorescent light tubes
  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Mercury thermometers
  • Latex and oil-based paints
  • Pool chemicals and cleaners

When these items end up at the landfill or are poured down the drain, they can pose a significant danger to our water system and health. Humans and pets can be exposed to the toxic chemicals causing a host of health problems. Vermin and insects can also carry diseases from the waste into our communities. In addition to fines, businesses can be sued for clean-up costs when illegal dumping is exposed.

With NWA, You Never Have to Worry About Hazardous Waste

Knowing what’s in your waste stream is the first step in warding off costly fines down the road. The simplest way to do so is to complete a waste audit. NWA has your back by continuously evaluating and identifying hazardous items and finding opportunities to safely dispose of and track them in ‘cradle to grave’ reports.

As you know, NWA provides a variety of cost-effective solutions for recycling light bulbs, mercury waste, batteries and e-waste.  We help clients like you by managing bulk recycling programs with pallets or truckloads shipped on a regular or project basis.  Our small quantity programs are designed by environmental and safety experts and offer an efficient means for your company to comply with disposal regulations.

At NWA we take environmental compliance very seriously and work pro-actively to improve processes at each and every one of your locations.  Once waste leaves your location, it’s still our concern.  We place high value on the quality of our haulers.  We carefully screen and require a repeatable standard of service.  This assures our customers that their financial, regulatory and reputational experience is protected.

If you have a need for specialty recycling we haven’t addressed yet,
reach out to your Account Manager … 1-888-692-5005 ext. 3.

©2021 National Waste Associates