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Apple settles claims of mishandling toxic waste

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) this week (6 December) announced that Apple Inc had agreed to pay $450,000 to settle claims regarding its mishandling of hazardous electronic waste at its facilities in Silicon Valley, contravening the state’s health and safety codes.

The claims in question refer to the DTSC’s allegation that Apple opened two electronic waste shredding facilities in Cupertino and Sunnyvale without first informing the state.

Apple settles claims of mishandling toxic waste

At Cupertino, Apple were alleged to have opened and operated an electronic waste shredding facility between 2011 and 2012, which processed about 1.1 million pounds of waste before its closure in January 2013, and mishandled metal dust from these operations.

The state also alleges that Apple then opened another shredding facility in Sunnyvale, proceeding to process 803,518 pounds of waste before informing the state regulators of its existence.

Regulators accused Apple of taking hazardous metal dust containing dangerous levels of copper, zinc and other particles, and disposing it at an unauthorised site in Roseville, which was unaware of the hazardous nature of the waste since Apple did not label its shipments.

Apple was also accused of not properly reporting and tracking exports of hazardous waste.

An “oversight in filing paperwork”

Commenting on the settlement, Keith Kihara, chief of DTSC’s Enforcement Division, said: “Compliance with the hazardous waste law is fundamental in protecting the health of workers and communities as well as the environment.

“We are encouraged by the settlement and that Apple is working with us to take the necessary steps to comply with California’s hazardous waste law.”

In order to settle the allegations, Apple has agreed to increase inspections at its facilities in Cupertino and Sunnyvale, according to CEPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

Meanwhile, an Apple spokesperson, Alisha Johnson, said: “This matter involves an oversight in filing paperwork to close one of our recycling facilities as part of our expansion to a larger site.

“We’ve worked closely with the DTSC to ensure that going forward we have the proper permits for our current site.

“As we do with all our facilities we followed our stringent set of health and safety standards, which go well beyond the legal requirements.”