Skip to main content

Is there a Tesla show room near your home town? You will definitely want to read up on the startup’s most recent scandal.

If you’ve ever worked on your own car, you know it’s loaded with toxic fluids. You need to follow local guidelines when you dispose of your used oil, gear oil, transmission fluid, and antifreeze. You can imagine that there are even worse chemicals involved in many steps of building a car, from welding to painting.

Tesla has eco-friendly marketing. You might think the startup would lead the charge in environmentally-conscious disposal of toxic materials. But on the other hand, Tesla has often acted as if the rules don’t apply to it. Recent examples include lying about vehicle ranges and spying on owners with in-car cameras. California District Attorneys began to suspect Tesla was flouting hazardous waste disposal laws.

Twenty-five district attorneys from across California began to put together a case in 2018, which included conducting undercover inspections of dumpsters at Tesla service centers and the factory in Fremont.

Dumpster against a brick wall.
Dumpster | Kevin Butz via Unsplash

Investigators found Tesla illegally disposing of the following substances at service centers:

  • Oils
  • Brake cleaner
  • Lead-acid batteries
  • Solvents
  • Electroncis

But that’s not all, the toxins tossed in the regular trash at the Fremont factory were even worse:

  • Paint mixing cups
  • Contaminated debris
  • Potentially toxic welding splatter

The state is fining Tesla $1.5 million for all these infractions. But that’s barely a slap on the wrist for a company that made $96 billion last year.

Tesla does not have a media department, but the district attorneys report that it is cooperating with further inspections:

“After Tesla was notified of the issues, they began quarantining and screening trash containers for hazardous waste at all of its service centers before trash was brought to the landfill.” Tesla will also train either its own employees, or outside inspectors, to audit the trash containers in the future.

Next, read how Tesla admitted to engineering infotainment screens to fail, or learn more about its toxic waste disposal problems in the video below: