Whole Foods reaches $3.5M environmental waste settlement

FILE - In this Monday, July 29, 2013, file photo, produce is placed on a Whole Foods paper bag in Andover, Mass. Grocery chain Whole Foods is cutting about 1,500 jobs, or 1.6 percent of its workforce, over the next eight weeks as it looks to lower prices and keep up with competition, the company announced Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
FILE - In this Monday, July 29, 2013, file photo, produce is placed on a Whole Foods paper bag in Andover, Mass. Grocery chain Whole Foods is cutting about 1,500 jobs, or 1.6 percent of its workforce, over the next eight weeks as it looks to lower prices and keep up with competition, the company announced Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

DALLAS (AP) – Whole Foods Market Inc. has reached a $3.5 million settlement with regulators over the disposal of products that were once for sale but later classified as hazardous waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the fine and an agreement Tuesday for Austin-based Whole Foods to comply with waste regulations and better train workers.

The EPA says the grocer improperly identified or mishandled hazardous waste in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Whole Foods said the matter often involves products – such as nail polish remover, vitamins, liquor and cleaning items – that are purchased, opened, returned and then can no longer be sold and are declared waste. The company says it worked with the EPA and has updated operations and training, plus improved its systems to better track such waste.

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