Walgreen to Pay $16.6 Million in California Waste Case

Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore chain, was ordered to pay $16.6 million to resolve a lawsuit brought by California cities alleging the retailer tossed pesticides, paint and pharmaceutical waste into local landfills.

Judge Wynne Carvill in Oakland ordered the payment in a June lawsuit brought by Los Angeles and district attorneys in six California counties who claimed that more than 600 Walgreen stores unlawfully handled and disposed of hazardous materials over a six-year period, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said today in an e-mail. The order couldn’t be confirmed in electronic court records.

Inspections of Walgreen trash bins conducted last year revealed that the company routinely sent waste to the landfills, O’Malley said. The company also unlawfully disposed of customer records containing confidential information, according to the e-mail.

“Since 2007, we have invested millions of dollars to develop and implement a comprehensive waste management program at all of our California stores to properly handle and dispose of discarded, damaged or expired consumer products that are covered by hazardous waste regulations in California,” Jim Graham, a Walgreen spokesman, said in an e-mail.

He said Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreen agreed to settle without admitting wrongdoing to avoid the expense of litigation.

The case is California v. Walgreen, RG12635137, Alameda County Superior Court (Oakland).

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