Whole Foods, EPA reach settlement

Whole Foods has settled with the Environmental Protection Agency over its violation of hazardous waste regulations in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, according to an EPA statement.

The retailer must correct its violations and pay penalties totaling more than $3.5 million and promote hazardous waste compliance in the retail industry.

Whole Foods explained in a statement that the violations had to do with recordkeeping and cataloguing issues related to consumer products such as nail polish remover, certain alcohol-containing products, liquor and certain vitamins that may become waste at stores after being opened and returned by a shopper.

“Whole Foods Market has implemented a comprehensive compliance program that is designed to assist our Team Members to properly manage the limited number of products that may be regulated by EPA when they can no longer be used for their intended purpose,” the retailer said in a statement.

“The company has extended the implementation of the program to all of its U.S. stores and facilities and, in partnership with the EPA, has committed to training and sharing best practices with businesses in [the EPA’s] Region 6 to support efforts to improve environmental compliance efforts across industries.”

Whole Foods’ plan includes:
• Updated environmental compliance standards and operating procedures for stores and facilities.
• Enhanced training programs for employees.
• Investments in enhanced IT systems to identify products that become hazardous waste in real time, so they may be tracked, managed and catalogued properly.
• Retention of additional internal and external environmental compliance experts for program and compliance.

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