Target Corp. unlawfully disposed of customers’ private medical information and both hazardous and medical waste. Now, the corporation will pay $7.4 million in a settlement, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.
A state investigation found that the retail giant committed multiple environmental violations in California between 2012 and 2016 by improperly disposing of items such as electronics, batteries, aerosol cans, compact fluorescent light bulbs and medical waste in landfills, according to a statement from Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office.
“Target’s ongoing and improper disposal of hazardous waste and contaminants harmed the public and the environment,” Becerra said in prepared remarks. “We are confident that with these strong injunctive terms and penalties, Target will implement meaningful changes to prevent this from ever happening again.”
This is the second time that Target has settled with the state since 2009, when the state and multiple counties sued Target alleging improper dumping. As part of the initial settlement in 2011, Target agreed to pay $22.5 million in penalties, attorneys’ fees and funding for environmental projects.
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As part of that settlement, Target agreed to an annual compliance audit and to refrain from disposing of hazardous waste in any unauthorized location.
However, an investigation by the state and several county district attorneys — including those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno, Orange and Ventura counties — found that Target illegally disposed of 2,038 items of hazardous waste, 175 items containing customers’ confidential medical information and 94 items of medical waste.
This latest settlement includes $3.2 million in civil penalties, $300,000 for funding environmental projects and at least $3 million to conduct three annual inspections and audits of 12 Target facilities.
Target released a statement about the settlement on Wednesday night.
“We’ve made significant progress in the way we handle hazardous waste following our 2011 settlement with the state of California. We have enhanced team member training, store operations and auditing processes and we continue work to improve our operations to best manage disposing of items like batteries, hairspray and laundry detergent that require additional, special care under California laws,” the statement read.
In addition, the corporation promised to “remind team members on best practices for handling environmentally sensitive items, commit to regular third-party audits and upgrade to clear trash bags in our stores for easier visual inspections.”