Big Lots Stores Inc. was recently ordered to pay more than $3.5 million in fines following settlement of a lawsuit alleging illegal hazardous waste disposal at its 206 California stores and a distribution center.  The law suit, filed by 35 California District Attorneys, was the result of an investigation into the company’s disposal of hazardous waste into trash bins at its stores throughout California.

In the opinion of the District Attorneys’, Big Lots failed to properly handle waste at all of its stores and its distribution center.  The hazardous materials were also illegally transported to local landfills not permitted to receive the waste.

“The hazardous waste included ignitable and corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, electronic devices and other e-waste,” Deputy District Attorney Dan Loug for San Bernardino County said to Daily Press. “In some instances, the hazardous waste was the result of overstock or expired merchandise. “In others, it was the result of spills, damaged containers and customer returns.”

Per the settlement, Big Lots must pay $2,017,500 in civil penalties and $336,250 to reimburse the costs of investigation.  Additionally, $350,000 more “will fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental enforcement and consumer protection in California,” according to the statement.

The company will also fund hazardous waste minimization and enhanced compliance projects valued at $803,750 and has implemented new policies, procedures and training designed to properly manage and dispose of hazardous waste.