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A Better Partnership


Jun 2013
June 10, 2013

Environmental Laws Aren't Just for Manufacturers

Recently, WalMart pleaded guilty to multiple violations of hazardous waste laws and agreed to pay fines totaling almost $82 million. Other charges settled by the retailer included violations of clean water and pesticide laws and regulations.

The worldwide retailer sells a wide variety of household goods that are regulated as hazardous waste or pollutants when disposed, including some household cleaners, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and fertilizer. According to authorities, WalMart employees took returned, damaged or expired products and tossed them in the trash or local sewer instead of properly managing them as hazardous wastes. WalMart also transported some materials to regional return centers without taking required safety precautions.

Almost all retail stores carry, use or store materials that are regulated as hazardous wastes when discarded. Manufacturers, suppliers and wholesalers that accept returns from retailers also need to ensure that returned products are properly managed. Hazardous wastes are subject to stringent federal and state regulation, and entities that do not comply with these environmental regulations may face civil or criminal liability.

Retail goods that may be subject to regulation as hazardous waste include:
  • Solvents/Bleach/Cleaners/Disinfectants
  • Fertilizer/Pesticides
  • Electronics/Batteries
  • Paints/Inks/Coatings
  • Pharmaceuticals/Nail polish/Deodorant/Hairspray
The environmental attorneys at Warner Norcross & Judd can help develop a strategy to identify potential hazardous wastes in the retail setting and create a plan for proper management. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Dan DeWitt at 616.752.2208 or

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