The founders of an electronics recycling company that left 56,000 tons of old CRT televisions abandoned in an Ohio warehouse were ordered Monday to pay $14.2 million to clean up the largest known television graveyard in the United States.
As I reported earlier this year, recycling old-school tube televisions is both expensive and hazardous work. Still, a number of companies believe they can get rich recycling televisions by "speculating" them, meaning they stockpile the TVs in warehouses in hopes that technological advances will one day make it easier and more profitable to recycle them. But as we've seen time and time again, CRT speculators inevitably fail.
The most notorious of these companies is Closed Loop. When it went out of business last year, it left 25,000 tons of televisions abandoned in a warehouse in Arizona and at least 56,000 tons of old CRT TVs in two warehouses in Ohio. These warehouses are hazardous to enter and extremely expensive to clean. Monday, the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County, Ohio, ordered Closed Loop's founders Brent Benham, David Cauchi, and Brian LaPoint to pay their landlords a total of $18.3 million to cover the failed enterprise (nearly $4 million of this was in unpaid rent; it'll cost $14.2 million to clean the entire facility).
"Closed Loop was not engaged in legitimate CRT recycling operations at the properties, but was instead engaged in the speculative accumulation and subsequent abandonment and disposal of the CRT waste at the properties without any feasible means of recycling it," the court ruled.
The verdict was originally reported by E-Scrap News.
The story of Closed Loop, sadly, isn't an outlier: In the last three years, the Environmental Protection Agency has found abandoned warehouses full of TVs in Arizona, Ohio, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New York, Utah, Massachusetts, and Kentucky. Even now, Closed Loop's warehouses are still full of abandoned TVs.