San Joaquin County
District Attorney's Office
OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY 222 E. Weber Ave., Room 202, Stockton, CA
P. O. Box 990, Stockton, CA 95201
T (209) 468-2400 | F (209) 465-0371
TORI VERBER SALAZAR District Attorney Scott A. Fichtner Assistant District Attorney Kristine M. Reed Assistant District Attorney James Bojko Chief Investigator
News from the Office of District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar
For Immediate Release
December 20, 2021
CONTACT: Elisa Bubak, Public Information Officer
T: (209) 468-2400 | E: elisa.bubak@sjcda.org

DA Verber Salazar Joins AG Bonta in Statewide Lawsuit Against Walmart

Stockton - Today, District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar joined California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and eleven other District Attorneys in announcing a statewide lawsuit against Walmart for the illegal disposal of hazardous waste. 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 authorized 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 lightbulbs, as well as confidential customer information.

According to results from Walmart's own inspections, the California Department of Justice estimates the company unlawfully disposes of approximately 159,000 pounds - or more than one million items - of hazardous waste in California each year.

"The illegal dumping and disposal of hazardous materials adversely impacts every member of our community and causes irreparable harm," said San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar . "We must hold violators, including retail conglomerates, accountable to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities."

"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 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. This lawsuit should serve as a warning to the state's worst offenders. We will hold you accountable. As the People's Attorney, taking on corporate polluters and protecting public health will always be among my top priorities."

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 fulfill its compliance responsibilities.

In the lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta and the district attorneys allege that Walmart violated the Hazardous Waste Control Law, the Medical Waste Management Act, the Customer Personal Information Law, and the Unfair Competition Law.

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.