Whole Foods to pay EPA $3.5M over hazardous waste

Whole Foods to pay EPA $3.5M over hazardous waste
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Grocery giant Whole Foods will pay $3.5 million to settle a federal complaint over the company’s hazardous waste handling policies. 

Whole Foods violated federal hazardous waste rules, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Tuesday, and will correct its handling practices and pay $3.5 in penalties to settle the complaints against it. 

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“All companies must follow the law and be responsible stewards of their hazardous waste, from generating it to safely disposing of it,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry said in a statement. 

“Whole Foods is correcting these violations and will ensure their stores and facilities continue to comply with environmental regulations. They will also look into launching an innovative hazardous waste tracking system that we hope becomes the industry standard.”  

During a year-long investigation, the EPA found hazardous waste handling violations at Whole Foods facilities in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico, the agency said. 

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods told KXAN the violations involved items such as nail polish remover and cleaning supplies that are purchased by customers and returned to the stores, at which point they can’t be resold and are considered waste. 

Whole Foods told the station it has updated its training and waste tracking strategies. The EPA said the company will also spend $500,000 on a program to educate Texas retailers about hazardous waste laws.