Three years after investigators began documenting illegal disposal of hazardous waste by Lowe's Home Centers statewide, the company has agreed to stop doing that and pay California $18.1 million.
The North Carolina-based company had revenues of $53 billion in 2013.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge George C. Hernandez approved the settlement Tuesday. District attorneys in 32 locales joined with two city attorneys and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in pursuing Lowe's after finding more than 118 of its stores were “routinely and systematically” tossing “pesticides, aerosols, paint and colorants, solvents, adhesives, batteries, mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs, electronic waste and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials” into landfills.
Investigators found that the practice had been going on for six and a half years. At some stores, items like batteries and fluorescent bulbs that were turned in for recycling got tossed in the trash.
Most of the money, $12.9 million, will go to paying civil penalties and costs. Around $3.2 million will fund projects to reduce hazardous waste and $2.1 million will pay for consumer protection and environmental projects. The state DTSCs will get $1.67 million for penalties and to defer its costs.
Lowe's spokesperson Karen Cobb said in a statement, “As part of our commitment to complying with local, state and federal regulations concerning disposal of hazardous waste, Lowe's agreed to the settlement.”
The commitment, apparently, did not include properly disposing of its hazardous waste in the first place.