Macy’s is one of the latest U.S. businesses to face steep fines for hazardous waste disposal violations - showcasing the importance of ensuring responsible waste management practices.
A judgment filed in California’s Riverside County Superior Court found that the Ohio-based Macy’s Retail Holdings, LLC, unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste at its 98 California retail locations over the past several years.
If your business generates hazardous waste, here’s why cases like the one against Macy’s matters to the future of your company.
The Case Against Macy’s
In September, the district attorneys from 25 California counties, as well as two city attorneys, announced that Macy’s had been ordered to pay $1.6 million in civil penalties and costs due to violations of environmental laws.
The lawsuit alleged that Macy’s illegally disposed of hazardous waste in regular trash bins and then transported the waste to local landfills rather than authorized hazardous waste facilities.
Among the hazardous waste that was not properly stored and disposed of were batteries, electronic waste, flammable and ignitable liquids, aerosol products, cleaning agents, and other reactive, toxic or corrosive materials. Items listed as containing drug facts were also among the waste improperly disposed of by Macy’s employees.
According to a news release from the Office of The District Attorney, County of Riverside, Macy’s improved its training programs to include more focus on properly managing and disposing of hazardous waste. State-registered haulers also now properly transport the retailer’s hazardous waste to the correct disposal facilities.
Under the settlement, Macy’s was fined $1,175,000 in civil penalties and $425,000 in cost reimbursement. District attorney’s offices part of the case included Alameda, Fresno, Monterey, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, Shasta and Yolo counties, as well as the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.
Why This Case Matters If You Generate Hazardous Waste
Like all companies, Macy’s is required to properly store and dispose of hazardous waste that is generated during business operations. Macy’s is no exception, and neither is your business, according to state and federal laws.
Any waste generated must be labeled and stored in segregated containers to ensure that incompatible wastes do not mix. If this occurs, it can cause dangerous chemical reactions that could endanger the lives of your employees and the surrounding community.
Earlier this summer, another company found this out the hard way by not taking the necessary steps to ensure proper medical waste disposal. The California Attorney General’s Office announced a nearly $49 million settlement with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals to resolve allegations that the healthcare provider had illegally disposed of medical waste, hazardous waste and protected health information at several Kaiser facilities across the state.
Another recent fine against a biopharmaceutical manufacturer left Genentech on the hook for $158,208 in civil penalties for mishandling hazardous waste. Among the allegations were failure to store hazardous waste with a permit and failure to include all necessary federal waste codes in hazardous waste manifests.
For smaller-sized businesses, fines of this magnitude could permanently shut the doors. Even larger businesses that can afford to pay the fines may have trouble recovering from damage to their reputations in the public eye.
Hazardous waste disposal companies have the expertise and resources available to ensure that your hazardous waste management is not only legally compliant, but also executed with care for both safety and the environment.
By enlisting the services of a reputable hazardous waste disposal company, you can rest assured that your waste will be properly labeled, segregated and stored. But with several hazardous waste disposal companies in business, how do you know which one is the best choice for your business?
What The Best Hazardous Waste Disposal Companies Offer
When it comes to hazardous waste management, it's crucial to recognize that there are numerous types of hazardous wastes, each with its own unique characteristics and disposal requirements. Whether you require industrial waste disposal, medical waste removal or electronic waste management, selecting a hazardous waste disposal company that specializes in handling the specific types of hazardous waste your business generates is critically important.
Here are some additional key considerations to keep in mind when choosing a hazardous waste disposal partner:
- Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that the disposal company is fully compliant with all state and federal environmental regulations. They should have the necessary permits and licenses to handle hazardous waste legally.
- Safety Protocols: Safety should be a top priority. Verify that the disposal company follows strict safety protocols, provides adequate employee training and uses the latest technology and equipment to minimize risks during the collection, transportation and disposal of hazardous materials.
- Emergency Response Capability: Accidents can happen, and it’s essential to choose a company with a well-defined emergency response plan in case of spills or other unforeseen incidents. They should be able to respond quickly and effectively to mitigate any potential harm.
- Proper Documentation: Maintaining accurate records and documentation is crucial for regulatory compliance. The disposal company should provide detailed manifests and reports, demonstrating that they have disposed of your waste in a compliant and responsible manner.
- Insurance Coverage: Verify that the disposal company carries adequate liability insurance to cover any potential accidents or mishaps during the handling and disposal of hazardous waste.
- References and Reputation: Research the company’s reputation and request references from other businesses they have worked with. This will help you gauge their reliability, professionalism, and the quality of their services.
- Cost Transparency: Seek a company that provides transparent pricing and a clear breakdown of costs associated with hazardous waste disposal. Ensure there are no hidden fees that could lead to unexpected financial burdens. A waste company should offer a free quote as well.
- Comprehensive Services: Some companies offer a range of services, including waste assessment, waste minimization and consulting. Choosing a provider that can assist you with various aspects of hazardous waste management can streamline the process and ensure a holistic approach to waste reduction and disposal.
By carefully considering these factors and selecting a hazardous waste disposal company that aligns with your specific needs and priorities, you can safeguard your business from legal issues, environmental harm and reputational damage while contributing to a safer and more sustainable future.