Home News Walmart Resolves Government Investigation into Environmental Compliance

Walmart Resolves Government Investigation into Environmental Compliance

Implemented Compliance Program in 2006 to Address Claims for Handling Common Consumer Products Treated as Hazardous Waste

BENTONVILLE, Ark., May 28, 2013 – Walmart has entered into plea agreements with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in the Northern and Central Districts of California, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri regarding misdemeanor violations of certain environmental laws, and has signed an administrative resolution with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve compliance issues that took place years ago.

This resolution follows previous civil settlements Walmart entered into with the State of California in 2010 and the State of Missouri in 2012 that addressed the same facts the federal government in this case raised and which Walmart has already remedied. The incidents on which the charges are based occurred years ago and involved the transportation and disposal of common consumer products. No specific environmental impact has been alleged and since then, Walmart designed and implemented comprehensive environmental programs that remain in place today. 

“Walmart has a comprehensive and industry-leading hazardous waste program,” said Phyllis Harris, senior vice president and chief compliance officer, Walmart US. “The program was built around training, policies and procedures on how to safely handle consumer products that become hazardous waste, and we continue to run the same program in every store and club that was deployed years ago,” Harris continued. “We are pleased that this resolves all of these issues raised by the government.”

Within the administrative resolution, the EPA noted that in 2006 Walmart began to implement an enhanced environmental management program in all of its retail facilities which seeks to properly manage hazardous waste and, in many respects, goes beyond compliance with environmental laws.

The EPA also acknowledged in the administrative resolution that Walmart has already taken steps to improve its environmental compliance program to address the issues and promote compliance with all applicable environmental laws related to the company’s hazardous waste management. Walmart and the EPA have also entered into a separate agreement which provides that the company will not be disqualified from participating in federal government programs. 

Walmart’s expansive environmental compliance measures include:

  1. Created nearly 50 dedicated environment compliance staff, with elevated management authority;
  2. Developing and implementing more than 100 environmental compliance standard operating procedures for our stores and clubs;
  3. Clearly identifying consumer products sold in stores and clubs that constitute hazardous waste if discarded, and providing this information to store and club associates through handheld terminals and shelf labels;
  4. Implementing a hazardous waste management system so that store and club associates properly dispose of regulated items that become waste at the stores and clubs;
  5. Providing enhanced environmental compliance training to associates in stores and clubs across the country.

Additionally, Walmart has reduced hazardous waste through its environmental sustainability measures by more than 30 percent since 2010. Examples include:

  • In 2011, Walmart worked with key suppliers and implemented a consumer aerosol can recapping program that resulted in a significant reduction of nearly 250,000 cans managed as hazardous waste as compared to 2010. The cans’ plastic caps were susceptible to breaking through shipping and traffic on the sales floor. Because there is no damage to the product itself, Walmart is now able to order replacement caps and return the aerosols to the sales floor instead of disposing them into the waste stream.
  • Through extensive collaboration with the EPA and key suppliers, Walmart obtained federal approval to implement a bag patch program for solid pesticide and fertilizer bags that allows Walmart to patch bags with minor damage and sell them when they previously would be managed as waste. Between 2011 and 2012, this program prevented nearly 12 million pounds of bagged lawn and garden products from becoming waste, including a portion of which would otherwise have been managed as hazardous waste.
  • Walmart completed a multi-year project to enhance IT systems that allows it to analyze waste generation trends for consumer products. This enables the company to better identify and track the disposition of products that for a variety of reasons will not be sold in stores. Walmart can now provide real time product specific direction to associates regarding properly managing products, significantly reducing the number of products that become hazardous waste. 

For additional information regarding Walmart’s environmental compliance program and sustainability efforts, please visit our website or the Walmart Sustainability Blog, The Green Room

Note: Together the plea agreements and administrative resolution call for Walmart to pay an aggregate amount of approximately $82 million consisting of the following payments:  $60 million for misdemeanor Clean Water Act Violations in California ($40 million fine and $20 million community service payments); $14 million in Missouri for a misdemeanor Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act violation (FIFRA) ($11 million fine and $3 million in community service payments); and a $7.6 million civil penalty to EPA to settle charges for FIFRA ($1.5 million) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) violations ($6.1 million). The payments will not impact the company’s results of operations for the second quarter of 2013 and will not be material to the company’s financial position.



About Walmart 
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, more than 245 million customers and members visit our more than 10,800 stores under 69 banners in 27 countries and e-commerce websites in 10 countries. With fiscal year 2013 sales of approximately $466 billion, Walmart employs more than 2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmartnewsroom. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.