We’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about the lessons learned from the Morgan Stanley data breach case. Then, the dust had barely settled from the high-profile lawsuit before another case hit the news late last year. 

Now, another giant corporation is in trouble for alleged improper e-waste disposal. This time it’s Walmart that’s receiving unwanted attention, and, once again, there’s plenty to learn. There’s hardly a more telling example of the absolute need for secure IT asset disposition services.

If you missed the story, E-Scrap News reported on Dec. 23:

California’s attorney general and several district attorneys this week filed suit against Walmart. They allege the major retailer routinely improperly disposes of e-scrap and other hazardous waste. The company told E-Scrap News the state’s demands go beyond what’s required by law.

Attorney General Rob Bonta and a dozen California district attorneys on Dec. 20 filed the lawsuit against Walmart, alleging the company has improperly sent hazardous waste collected at store locations across California to municipal landfills. The filing alleges the disposal violations took place from 2015 to 2021.

A history of disposal trouble

When such a large corporation allegedly struggles to comply with the state’s Hazardous Waste Control Law, data security laws, and more, it goes to show just how challenging the disposal of e waste can be. It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Secure IT asset disposition services would have ensured compliance and kept Walmart out of the news. 

Interestingly, this is not the first time Walmart has been accused of hazardous waste disposal violations. In 2010, the company paid $25 million in a settlement and agreed to comply with disposal laws. However, we now know what happened next. 

Two years later, in 2012, Walmart also paid $1.25 million to Missouri for a similar incident, The Verge reports. In 2013, the company once again found itself in trouble, pleading guilty to negligently discharging a pollutant into drains in 16 counties in California, according to the Associated Press.

“Despite repeated enforcements against Walmart over the past two decades, it consistently — and knowingly — fails to comply with California’s environmental protection laws,” director Meredith Williams of the Department of Toxic Substances Control in California said in the press release.

A Walmart spokesman, on the other hand, called the lawsuit “unjustified” and said the state demands a level of compliance that “goes beyond what is required by law.”

The ‘don’ts’ of IT asset disposition services

Let’s look at the new issues in more detail. If anything it’s a step-by-step of “don’ts” of secure IT asset disposition services. 

First of all, the errors were, according to the state, not isolated to a few incidents. Rather, 58 inspections over six years revealed the improper disposal of hazardous waste, medical waste, and/or customer records with personally identifiable information. 

Secondly, the inspections uncovered discarded electronics in compactors in a range of counties. They include San Joaquin, Monterey, Alameda, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, Napa, Fresno, Riverside, Tulare, Yolo, Yuba, Santa Clara, and Orange. 

Based on figures from Walmart’s internal audit, the state estimates the company could be disposing of 159,600 pounds across all hazardous waste material categories per year. 

The key to success begins with the right ITAD partner

So, how would secure IT asset disposition services have prevented Walmart from landing in this mess?

In short, secure IT asset disposition services provide a systematic approach to managing the disposition of retired and outdated IT assets. Each service is designed to protect your data, minimize landfill use, maximize value recovery, and satisfy all regulatory requirements and corporate risk management initiatives. 

The process meticulously tracks each asset. Further, the right ITAD partner sanitizes all data in compliance with NIST 800-88 standards for data destruction. With the correct process in place, you eliminate the risk of a discarded electronic asset ending up in a compactor or leaching dangerous chemicals into the groundwater. 

Every company needs to take the job of recycling its corporate electronic assets seriously. Yet, despite all the troubles of Walmart and Morgan Stanley, it doesn’t have to be as complex as you may think. A certified, seasoned ITAD partner makes it easy by design. Just ask us

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