By Paul Ploumis
SPOKANE (Scrap Monster): Apple Inc. has agreed to pay $450,000 to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in settlement of complaints with regards to hazardous waste violations at its shredding facilities in Silicon Valley. The settlement agreement to this effect was filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
As part of the settlement the Cupertino, California-headquartered American multinational technology company has agreed to increase facility inspections to ensure that its operations are in compliance with state rules. Inspections will be conducted on a weekly basis at areas where hazardous waste is generated or stored. Further, the company will hereafter maintain a closure plan for the facility. Moreover, the shredded electronic waste generated at the facility will be properly labeled and safely transported.
According to the complaint, during some part of 2011 and throughout 2012, the company had operated a facility at Tantau Avenue in Cupertino, California, where it used to dismantle, shred and dispose of Apple brand electronic devices. In January 2013, the company ceased the operations at the Tantau Avenue facility and relocated the operations to Sunnyvale, where it began similar operations including dismantling and shredding.
The operations at the facility involved removal of lithium batteries which are later shipped to off-site locations or exported for recycling. The fine dust resulting from shredding operations was collected, bagged and removed using vacuum device. The waste after shredding the electronic devices was shipped off-site for recycling as scrap metal, mainly to Sims Recycling Solutions’ Roseville, California facility.
The DTSC personnel had conducted inspection at the Sunnyvale facility in June 2013. The company’s waste handling practices were observed. In addition, samples of baghouse dust and floor sweep waste were collected for testing. The tests revealed that the waste contained hazardous constituents, including hazardous levels of copper and zinc and particles less than 100 microns in size. A review of company records and subsequent investigation revealed that Apple had followed similar operating practices at Tantau Avenue Facility, prior to closing that facility.
Apple processed nearly 1,121,847 pounds of electronic waste at the Tantau Avenue facility during 2011and 2012. The processing was carried out without informing DTSC of the existence of this facility and in violation of the Department’s universal waste regulations. Also, prior to informing the Department, the company processed in excess of 800,000 pounds of electronic waste at the Sunnyvale facility. Incidentally, universal waste, such as electronic devices, batteries and other discarded consumer products containing hazardous substances, are subject to California universal waste regulations.
Keith Kihara, Chief of DTSC’s enforcement division noted that the agency is encouraged by the agreement and the steps taken by Apple to comply with California’s hazardous waste law. Compliance with the hazardous waste law is fundamental in protecting the health of workers, communities and environment, Kihara added.
About Apple Inc.
Apple Inc. designs, develops, and sells consumer electronics, computer software, and online services. It is the world's largest information technology company by revenue, the world's largest technology company by total assets and the world's second-largest mobile phone manufacturer. The company’s worldwide annual revenue totaled $233 billion for the fiscal year ending in September 2015.