Los Angeles – City Attorney Mike Feuer, along with six California District Attorneys, announced today that a $3.5-million stipulated judgment against Walgreen Co. (“Walgreens”) has been reached which settles allegations that the pharmacy giant unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste in violation of both state laws and terms from a prior judgment over similar allegations. Judgment was entered by the Alameda County Superior Court and includes civil penalties and costs, supplemental environmental programs and enhanced compliance efforts.
“With about 100 Walgreens in and around L.A., this judgment is a big win for our environment and public health,” said Feuer. “It demonstrates that even after claims of prior alleged environmental violations are settled, we and our colleagues across the state will be vigilant in ensuring major corporations actually follow through and play by the rules."
The current settlement follows a 2013-2020 investigation of Walgreens during which time prosecutors allege that the company, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain, improperly disposed of hazardous waste in municipal landfills not authorized to accept it. The unlawful waste included items such as over-the-counter and prescription medication, electronic devices, batteries, aerosol products, cleaning supplies and other toxic items generated through the company’s normal business activities. This settlement also resolves allegations that Walgreens failed to shred or otherwise destroy customer records containing confidential information before disposal.
This stipulated judgment requires Walgreens to pay $3.5-million, consisting of $2.8-million in civil penalties, $300,000 in supplemental environmental projects and $400,000 for reimbursement of investigative and enforcement costs. In addition, the settlement requires Walgreens to continue to employ four California-based compliance employees to oversee its hazardous waste compliance program and to undergo waste audits in at least five percent of their California locations to ensure such waste and confidential consumer information is properly disposed of.
This is the second settlement resolving allegations that Walgreens mismanaged hazardous waste in California. In June of 2012, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office along with several other district attorneys’ offices across the state filed a complaint in Alameda County alleging that Walgreens violated state statutes and regulations governing the handling and disposal of hazardous waste. That lawsuit was ultimately resolved by a stipulated judgment, entered into in December of 2012, for which Walgreens paid $16.57 million in penalties, costs, and funding for supplemental environmental projects, and was required to comply with injunctive terms.
Walgreens, like all retail stores, is required to properly manage hazardous waste that is generated in the normal course of business and to maintain such waste in labeled and segregated containers to ensure that incompatible hazardous waste does not combine to cause dangerous chemical reactions.
In addition to City Attorney Mike Feuer, the case was prosecuted primarily by District Attorneys in Monterey, Alameda, Riverside, San Joaquin, Solano, and Yolo Counties.
This prosecution was a multi-jurisdictional effort. Jessica Brown, Supervisor of the City Attorney’s Environmental Justice Unit, led the prosecution of this case for the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney.
Read the Final Judgment.