Heights approves $22.5 million contact with beleaguered waste management company

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — The City Council voted in favor of a new contract with Canadian-owned company Green For Life Environmental previously known as Rizzo Environmental Services.

The council approved the eight-year, $22.5 million contract with the company with a 4-2 vote during its Oct. 25 meeting.

Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton pushed to add a six-month terminate-out clause and grounds for termination if indictments, bribery, fraud are committed in the contract.

“This was one of the most difficult votes ever,” she said. “Logic has to rule over emotion when making a decision for 57,000 plus residents and trash hauling.”

Rizzo is currently involved in a federal corruption case with bribery allegations with Macomb County politicians.

Former Rizzo Environmental Services CEO and Founder Chuck Rizzo Jr. resigned earlier this month following the bribe allegations.

GFL purchased Rizzo Environmental Services in October for $300 million just weeks before the case was filed in federal court.

Green For Life Environmental President and CEO Patrick Dovigi took over the company’s business on an interim basis after the resignation.

“In the best interests of the company and our customers, Chuck Rizzo, Jr. has resigned, effective immediately,” Dovigi said during a teleconference. “I will oversee Rizzo’s business on an interim basis until further notice.”

The current Rizzo allegations will not roll over to GFL as the new company prepares trucks with new logos and branding.

“It has mandated us to rebrand the company within six months,” Dovigi said during the teleconference. “Rizzo will be going away … from this point forward.”

Rizzo Environmental Services is based in Sterling Heights and has contracts with more than 50 metropolitan Detroit cities including Dearborn Heights.

The city’s contract with Waste Management ended on Oct. 31 and the city did not have a backup plan without a new trash hauling company.

“An extension on the current contract, would never have been in place in time,” Hicks-Clayton said. “We lose any leverage to negotiate a better contract at the six-month mark, if desired.”

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)