Apple To Pay $450,000 After Allegations of Hazardous Waste Violations
Apple has agreed to pay $450,000 as part of a settlement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, which alleged it found hazardous waste violations at two electronic waste shredding facilities that the tech firm operated without initially informing the state.
Apple suggested Tuesday that the violations were due to an oversight in filing the proper paperwork and that its safety standards at both plants had never put the public at risk. But the department claimed the tech firm had violated the state's health and safety codes.
"Compliance with the hazardous waste law is fundamental in protecting the health of workers and communities as well as the environment," said Keith Kihara, chief of DTSC's enforcement division, in a statement. "We are encouraged by the settlement and that Apple is working with us to take the necessary steps to comply with California's hazardous waste law."
From 2011 to 2012, Apple processed 1.1 million pounds of electronic waste at a Cupertino facility on Tantau Avenue without DTSC's knowledge. The company closed the facility in January 2013 and moved its operations to a facility in Sunnyvale, where workers processed 803,518 pounds of electronic waste before Apple informed the state of the plant's existence, according to a complaint filed on behalf of the agency.
After the DTSC inspected the Sunnyvale facility in June 2013, it discovered that Apple produced a fine dust that also was vacuumed from the floors and then shipped to a recycling facility in Roseville. The department tested the dust and waste collected from the floors and found it contained hazardous levels of copper, zinc and other particles.
The recycling plant in Roseville isn't authorized to handle hazardous waste, but the plant didn't know the waste was hazardous because Apple didn't properly label the shipments.
DTSC also found out, after reviewing Apple's record, that the tech firm had opened and closed an electronic waste plant in Cupertino without letting the state know, and had processed similar electronic waste there.
The agency claimed that Apple not only failed to submit the proper paperwork for both facilities, but that it was disposing and transporting hazardous waste in a way that ran afoul of the state's health and safety codes. Apple also didn't label or mark used oil containers as hazardous waste.
On Tuesday, an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement that the whole issue arose over an "oversight in filing paperwork" when it closed its recycling facility in Cupertino to expand to a larger site.
"We've worked closely with DTSC to ensure that going forward we have the proper permits for our current site," she said. "As we do with all our facilities, we followed our stringent set of health and safety standards, which go well beyond legal requirements."
The California Attorney's General's Office, which represented the DTSC, filed the settlement in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
As part of the settlement, Apple will ensure it does comply with all laws and regulations that the agency brought up and conduct weekly inspections in its facilities where hazardous waste is produced.