California Aggressively Pursues Hazardous Waste In Dumpster Violations

Mar 27, 2018

This is a cautionary tale for contractors

The California Attorney General, in conjunction with local State District attorneys, spent two years inspecting the material deposited in dumpsters of Home Depot stores for illegally discarded hazardous waste material.

Kerry Shea’s article in Energy & Environmental Law Blog reports that the penalties exacted against Home depot are astronomical.

“Home Depot agreed to pay $27.8 million to settle claims when faced with the evidence of discarded materials that included regulated hazardous waste and readable customer information. The March 8, 2018, Consent Judgment provides not only for that penalty, but for injunctive relief requiring programs to prevent future inadvertent disposal of such materials.”

Investigators “followed trash collectors of more than 300 Home Depot retail stores and sifted through the rubbish.” Under California law, items such as “batteries, aerosol cans, electronic devices… and paint” are considered health hazards.

The retailer was also fined for documents that “had not been correctly redacted or covered to conceal customer information.”

The Judgment requires Home Depot to train its employees to process waste material correctly and to conduct “daily inspections [and] … employ environmental managers” to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Ms. Shea does not indicate whether Home Depot’s actions were intentional or merely negligent. That is immaterial in regard to the sanctions exacted against it, but it should be a “wake-up call” for contractors.

Virtually every contractor uses dumpsters to collect job debris and trash. How many adhere to the environmental requirements set forth under California Law and Federal law?

Probably very few.

Given the potential financial consequences for non-compliance, it would be prudent for contractors to “review their training programs and compliance records” and make the adjustment to their jobsite procedures required to avoid costly penalties.


Dumpster Divers Extract Millions of Dollars. Again, Kerry Shea, Energy & Environmental Law Blog, March 12, 2018.