Bed, Bath & Beyond to pay $1.49 million in Settlement of Environmental Violations

Oakland, California – District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley, along with 30 other California District Attorneys and the Los Angeles City Attorney, announced today a $1.49 million settlement against New Jersey-based Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc. (“Bed Bath & Beyond”) to resolve allegations that the company violated state laws governing hazardous waste.

The judgment is the culmination of a civil enforcement lawsuit filed last month in Ventura County Superior Court claiming that more than 200 Bed Bath & Beyond stores throughout the state (including Cost Plus, buybuy BABY, Harmon, Harmon Face Values, World Market, and Cost Plus World Market stores) unlawfully handled, transported and disposed of batteries, electronic devices, ignitable liquids, aerosol products, cleaning agents, and other flammable, reactive, toxic, and corrosive materials, at local landfills that were not permitted to receive those wastes.

“The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office remains committed to protecting the natural resources of the county and the state. When businesses, large or small, illegally dispose of hazardous waste, not only do they violate the law, but they put the environment at risk,” states DA O’Malley. “We will not stand idly by while corporations disregard the safety and well-being of the environment.”

The investigation was initiated by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office after a fire broke out on December 24, 2015 at the City of Oxnard’s Del Norte Transfer Facility in a load of store waste from the trash compactor of the Oxnard Bed Bath and Beyond store. The bagged store waste burst into flames when a city employee used a front-end loader to spread the freshly dumped trash pile. Investigation recovered numerous items of regulated waste, including several electronic items and hazardous waste, including lithium batteries and a small can of lighter fluid. About four months later, on April 14, 2016, a second fire broke out in the trash compactor attached to rear of the Oxnard Bed Bath & Beyond store. After that fire was extinguished, investigators inspected the waste and again and discovered numerous items of regulated waste, including batteries, broken compact fluorescent bulbs and various discarded electronic devices.

Following the Ventura County incidents, inspectors from the Environmental Unit of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, along with other district attorney, city attorney, and local environmental regulatory officials, conducted a series of undercover inspections of Bed Bath & Beyond store waste around the state. These inspections, and other investigation, revealed that Bed Bath & Beyond had been sending regulated hazardous wastes from stores to local landfills throughout California. There are eight Bed Bath and Beyond stores in Alameda County and District Attorney inspectors conducted waste inspections of the trash from four of those stores. The waste inspections revealed that three of the four stores were unlawfully disposing of hazardous waste.

When notified of the investigation, Bed Bath and Beyond took steps to cooperate and to dedicate additional resources towards environmental compliance and improving its existing regulated-waste management program, including by performing regular self-audits of its compactors and waste bins in California.

Under the final judgment, Bed Bath & Beyond must pay $1,327,500 in civil penalties and as reimbursement of investigation and prosecution costs, and an additional $171,250 to fund supplemental environmental projects furthering environmental enforcement in California. The retailer will also be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.

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Contact: ADA Ken Mifsud // Ken.Mifsud@acgov.org // (510) 777-2230

Download PDF of press release

Posted on Oct 28, 2020