CVS Pharmacy has been fined a record USD 3.6 million after dozens of its stores failed to redeem deposits on recycled cans and bottles. The penalty has been imposed by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, famous as CalRecycle. CalRecycle found in its investigation that 81 out of 848 CVS retail stores in California refused to redeem the recyclables. They even failed to pay the USD 100-a-day fee as an alternative. The fee is for retailers that do not offer redemption. According to CalRecycle, the giant retailer did not pay the fees at some locations dating to 2017. It intends to charge the pharmacy store for a total of 18,290 days of unpaid fees which will be around USD 1.8 million. This charge would be doubled in civil penalties. This is by far the largest ever penalty proposed by the state agency against a retailer for not redeeming recyclables.
The enforcement action was filed last week and CVS pharmacy can seek a hearing in case it wants to challenge the fine. Jared Blumenfeld, state secretary of environmental protection, said that the action against CVS will send a strong message. California is trying hard to provide enough recycling centers for citizens, following the shrinking of foreign markets for recyclables. However, the pharmacy said that it is committed to contributing to healthier and more sustainable communities. CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said that they are reviewing the filing by CalRecycle.
CalRecycle is being praised even by its most vocal critics for the steps it has taken against the CVS. The pharmacy became a high priority for the state agency because it owned more in fees and penalties than any other business. California passed a law in 1986 under which 5-cent charges are attached to most beverages containers. The charge goes up to 10 cents for the bottle of more than 24 ounces. The law states that the fees charged will be returned to customers once they handover bottles and cans made of plastic, glass, and aluminum. California is one of 10 states with this refund system for beverage containers.