Whole Foods reaches $3.5M environmental waste settlement

DALLAS (AP) — Whole Foods Market Inc. has reached a $3.5 million settlement with regulators over its improper identification or mishandling of hazardous waste at stores.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the fine and an agreement Tuesday for Austin-based Whole Foods to comply with waste regulations and better train workers.

Whole Foods Market Inc. said the matter often involves products — such as nail polish remover, vitamins, liquor and cleaning items — that are purchased, opened, returned and then can no longer be sold and are declared waste.

The EPA says the grocer’s violations were at stores in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In a statement, Whole Foods said there was no allegation or finding by the EPA that it improperly disposed of hazardous wastes, but that it addressed “record keeping” with regard to hazardous waste in its stores.

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A representative for the EPA was not immediately available to provide more details.

The company says it worked with the EPA and has updated operations and training, plus improved its systems to better track such waste.