Ever since the new laws and regulations for e-waste disposal were initiated, there has been little in the news concerning perpetrators of those laws. But in November, that all changed as AT&T became the first major business to face stiff penalties as a result of the company’s illegal disposal of hazardous e-waste materials. After a nine-year investigation, the telecommunications giant had to pay out $52 million to the state of California.
According to records, AT&T manages 235 warehouses and dispatch facilities throughout California. The investigation uncovered unlawful disposal of e-waste and other hazardous materials occurring at 13 of its facilities. The materials, which included electronic equipment, batteries, aerosol cans, and other items, were being sent directly to landfills instead of being processed and disposed of according to state and federal regulations.
Under the settlement deal, AT&T agreed to pay $23.8 million in civil penalties, including $3 million that’s earmarked for future enforcement actions. The company also agreed to pay an additional $28 million over the next five years to make process changes in an effort to prevent future violations.
AT&T released an official statement regarding the investigation and the settlement deal:
“We take environmental stewardship seriously, and we’ve cooperated closely with the state and Alameda County to resolve this issue in a way that is in the best interests of the environment, our customers and all Californians. The settlement recognizes the company for taking prompt action, dedicating significant additional resources toward environmental compliance, and improving our hazardous and universal waste management compliance programs.”
AT&T’s landmark settlement should stand as a wake-up call for today’s big businesses that improper e-waste disposal is a serious offense. In fact, since AT&T’s settlement, Verizon Communications and four other telecommunication companies have acknowledged that they are also under investigation for improper e-waste disposal.
In recent years, other companies have also been the subject of such investigations, such as Target, which had to pay out $22.5 million in 2011. In 2013, a Colorado e-waste recycling company, Executive Recycling, was convicted of sending hazardous e-waste to China. The company not only had to pay out $4.5 million, but two of its executives were also sentenced to jail time.
Today’s law enforcement takes e-waste disposal and recycling very seriously. They commit a lot of money and man hours to find and convict those that disregard the law. As a result, it is more important than ever for companies to utilize reliable and responsible e-waste recycling practices. Those that don’t adhere to current e-waste handling guidelines risk facing serious fines, damaged reputations, and even jail time.
Don’t risk it – partner with a reliable e-waste recycler. Liquid Technology is one of the leading providers of e-waste disposal and recycling in the country. We are fully-insured, e-Stewards-certified, R2-certified, ISO-14001-certified, and a member of NAID. We can help you protect your company and the planet. Call us today at 800-797-5478 to discuss your options.