Following closely on the heels of Dollar General’s hazardous waste settlement (about which we reported in our April, 19, 2017 blog post), another discount retailer has been held to account in a big way for its failure to properly manage its waste streams. On April 21, 2017, a San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge ordered Big Lots Stores, Inc. (“Big Lots”) to pay $3.5 million in civil penalties and costs for environmental violations. The order is the result of an investigation into the disposal of hazardous waste by Big Lots at its distribution center and its 206 California stores over the past several years. The lawsuit was brought by 35 District Attorney’s Offices and two City Attorney’s Offices in California.
According to a press release from the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, Big Lots illegally disposed of hazardous waste and illegally transported it to local landfills not permitted to receive such waste, instead of transporting the hazardous waste to authorized hazardous waste facilities. The hazardous waste included ignitable and corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, and waste from electronic devices. Big Lots reported that it has now adopted and implemented new policies and procedures, as well as new training programs to properly manage and dispose of hazardous waste. Big Lots’ hazardous waste is now collected by state-registered haulers to transport it to authorized disposal facilities.
Both the Dollar General settlement and the Big Lots order serve as reminders that retailers must be on top of their waste management practices and know their waste streams.