Safeway will pay $9.87 million to 41 California counties and cities for illegally disposing of household chemicals and medicines from more than 500 stores and distribution centers over a period of seven years.
An Alameda Superior Court judge approved the settlement, which was announced this week.
The settlement resolves allegations that Safeway stores and distribution centers, including its other brands, Vons, Pavilions and Pak ‘n Save, violated California laws for the safe storage, handling and disposal of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste generated from spills and customer returns of hazardous products.
The investigation into Safeway’s practices began after discovery of improper shipments of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste to Safeway’s distribution centers from their stores. The investigation revealed that Safeway was also sending hazardous and pharmaceutical wastes to local area landfills not equipped to receive such waste.
Upon being notified by prosecutors of the widespread issues, Safeway worked cooperatively to remedy the issue, enhance its environmental compliance program and train its employees to properly handle such waste, according to the Yolo County district attorney.
The Sacramento Bee reports Safeway officials did not admit wrongdoing, but in a statement, said it was “among a number of retailers to agree to changes in how it characterizes everyday retail items no longer for sale as hazardous waste,” items such as aerosol sprays, detergents, hair dyes and antibacterial soaps.
In November 2014, Sims Group USA agreed to pay nearly $2.4 million to settle a civil environmental enforcement action resulting from a hazardous waste disposal investigation in California.