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Battle for trash hauling

By Lisa Brody
News Editor
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11/22/2016 - What was once a small snow plowing company, with only the city of Hamtramck as a major customer, is now the dominant waste hauler in southeastern Michigan, with contracts for hauling trash and recycling for 55 municipalities, including 20 out of 62 communities in Oakland County. This growth by Rizzo Environmental Services has come at the expense of other waste haulers, and is now the subject of a public corruption probe by the FBI in Macomb County. While there currently is no known evidence of corruption by Rizzo in Oakland County, there has been a battle for supremacy and dominance in the county, and if numbers tell the story, that story says that Rizzo is currently the reigning king of trash hauling, a multi-million, if not billion dollar, industry.

The battle for garbage disposal in Oakland County may seem like a strange war, but it's actually a classic conflict, a blazing battle over territory, money and power.

The dirt on Rizzo, and how they became the king of the trash heap, may not be as salacious as what has happened in Macomb County. From research so far relative to Oakland County, it appears the company has a reputation for providing their customers with very good service at a very good price, often underbidding their competition. As for possible improprieties in Oakland County, or if the FBI is investigating any corruption in the county, Tim Wyley, FBI public affairs spokesperson said, "I would be able to neither confirm nor deny if we are looking into Rizzo in Oakland County. I have nothing I can share with you regarding any of our investigations with Rizzo or Oakland County."

Rizzo Environmental Services is in the process of being rebranded as GFL after a sale on October 3 to GFL Environmental (Greener for Life), a company valued at $2.4 billion out of Toronto, Canada, which operates in all of Canada's provinces. Rizzo was a family-owned business for over 50 years, since 1965, out of Sterling Heights. Early on, it was known as C&R Maintenance Inc., providing waste control services to home and business customers in metro Detroit, renting roll-off dumpsters, front-load containers and compactors of various sizes for home and commercial use, as well as landscaping and snow removal for some customers. The company also handled all forms of recycling. By 2012, the company was known as Rizzo Services.

C&R Maintenance initially was a commercial maintenance company begun by Chuck Rizzo Sr. in 1965. Over the years, the company grew, operating Snowone, a snow removal company that is now defunct; Rizzo; Rizzo Services; Rizzo Express, a waste management service; and Titan National, a national vehicle shipping company. Rizzo Express and Titan National are both no longer operational businesses. Over time, Chuck Rizzo Jr. joined his father in the business, and was CEO and president of the company when it was sold recently to GFL. According to numerous published reports, at least three Macomb Township officials are charged with taking bribes from Rizzo Environmental Services in exchange for helping the trash hauling company win a contract. The FBI has announced they are conducting a full public corruption probe of "pay-to-play" schemes and charging the politicians behind them in Macomb County, stating, "this is an extensive investigation into systemic corruption." In light of that news, Chuck Rizzo Jr. resigned, as of October 25, from the company he and his father created.

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