Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Costco settles environmental lawsuit with $3.6 million payout

Shoppers stand near a filled cart in a Costco warehouse store.
Shoppers stand near a filled cart in a Costco warehouse store.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, retail giant Costco has agreed to pay out $3.6 million across more than two dozen California counties for alleged violations when storing, handling and disposing of hazardous materials, including pharmaceutical waste.

Occurring over a five-year period from 2007 through 2011, the allegations include Costco employees not labeling or sorting hazardous products including pool chlorine, nicotine patches and bleach. Items were thrown in the thrash or left on store shelves indefinitely, as opposed to following state laws that require such materials be properly disposed of within 90 days.

"Businesses both large and small must comply with California's environmental regulations," said Donald du Bain, the Solano County District Attorney, one of the 29 represented in the lawsuit to the Reporter. "Because of the multi-jurisdictional efforts of district attorneys' offices throughout the state in conjunction with Costco's cooperation, we are reducing the risk of harm to the environment caused by the improper storage and disposal of hazardous waste."

The suit was a quick one, with Costco settling just two days after it was filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

"As a result of this investigation and prosecution," added Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to the Chronicle, “regulated waste produced by Costco stores in California must now be properly stored, handled, transported and disposed of."