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Whole Foods Reaches $3.5M Environmental Waste Settlement

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Whole Foods Market Inc. has reached a $3.5 million settlement with regulators over its improper identification or mishandling of hazardous waste at stores.

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.

Whole Foods Market Inc. 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 EPA says the grocer's violations were at stores in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. In a statement, Whole Foods said there was no allegation or finding by the EPA that it improperly disposed of hazardous wastes, but that it addressed "record keeping" with regard to hazardous waste in its stores.

As part of the settlement with Texas facilities, Whole Foods will create and fund a program to educate Texas retailers—particularly smaller businesses—about hazardous waste laws. The  environmental project will also provide information about the importance of maintaining compliance.

A representative for the EPA was not immediately available to provide more details.

The company says it worked with the EPA and has updated operations and training, plus improved its systems to better track such waste.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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