The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) said Apple also agreed to increase facility inspections at its Cupertino and Sunnyvale plants.
DTSC says it found hazardous waste violations during a 2013 inspection of an Apple e-waste shredding facility in Sunnyvale. The department says a subsequent review of records showed Apple had opened, operated and then closed an e-waste shredding facility from 2011 to 2012 with alerting DTSC or complying with its hazardous waste regulations.
Apple processed about 1.1 million pounds of e-waste at the Cupertino facility before closing it in January 2013, and shifting operations to a facility in Sunnyvale. At the new facility, it shredded and disposed of more than 800,000 pounds of electronic waste before notifying DTSC of the plant’s existence and complying with regulations, according to the state.
“This matter involves an oversight in filing paperwork to close one of our recycling facilities as part of our expansion to a larger site,” Apple spokeswoman Alisha Johnson told Reuters in an emailed statement. “We’ve worked closely with [the Department of Toxic Substance Control] to ensure that going forward we have the proper permits for our current site. As we do with all our facilities, we followed our stringent set of health and safety standards, which go well beyond legal requirements.”
The regulators also allege Apple mishandled metal dust from shredder operations. The dust is classified as a hazardous waste due to the concentration of metals.
This settlement illustrates the importance of having a robust hazardous waste management program in place. Not only does this waste pose environmental challenges, it also presents a legal risk to businesses.
Comcast recently settled with the state of California — to the tune of $25.95 million — as a result of its “careless and unlawful” hazardous waste disposal practices, which state regulators said put people and the environment at risk. Previously the state reached a $23.8 million settlement with AT&T over similar waste disposal violations.