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December 21, 2013

Rizzo rep faces Eastpointe council’s recycling questions

By Kevin Bunch
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — A Rizzo Services representative faced questions about the company’s recycling-cart rollout from the Eastpointe City Council Dec. 17, with council members reiterating their past position that everybody in the city receive one of the new recycling carts.

Don Barretta, spokesman for Rizzo, said that as of the meeting date, 6,500 red recycling carts had been delivered to residents who had requested them, with around 34 still needing delivery.

“It has always been my understanding … at first, carts were delivered to people who recycle,” Barretta said. “Then, when we started delivering, we had problems because not everyone puts their existing bin out.”

Earlier this month, Chuck Rizzo, CEO of Rizzo Services, told C & G that the company had also been backlogged on its recycling cart orders from its supplier, Rehrig Pacific, delaying delivery of more carts by a month. Rizzo Services initially had ordered 5,200 carts, he said — below the number of requests the company received.

Councilman Philip Guastella said he had heard from residents who called multiple times and still had not received their recycling carts. He said that he felt the best plan is still to give everyone in the city a recycling cart.

“It seems like the only way to be really sure is to put a red bin at every residence in city, from my standpoint,” Guastella said. “I don’t know how the rest of council feels.”

The rest of the council seemed to agree with the idea, with Councilman Bill Sweeney saying that not everybody who wants to recycle likes to take the existing 18-gallon bin out to the road. The red carts are 64 gallons and have wheels.

“They can be a pain to lug out,” Sweeney said. “I would prefer to give everyone a red cart and a have number that if they don’t want it, they can give it back.”

He added that he believes the company has done an excellent job for the most part, but that he thinks that if more people have recycling carts, the more people who will end up recycling. Separating out recyclables from the garbage also reduces the amount in the garbage can each week.

“You’re going to see a bigger usage, and what I think is a convenience to all our residents is having the two cans,” Sweeney said. “When you start to sort stuff, I don’t have to put my cans out as often.”

City Manager Steve Duchane said the company has been responsive to the city’s concerns on all these issues and that it was something to discuss further. He added that the 13,000 garbage carts were delivered without a hitch, and that 6,500 people in a recycling program is a high number for a municipality of Eastpointe’s size.

Baretta said the company does plan on rolling out “Rizzo Rewards” in January or February, where people who are recycling in Eastpointe can sign up online or by phone and get rewards and coupons to redeem at local businesses.

“We find most people would like to shop locally,” Baretta said. “When a packet is mailed out, there will be a letter from the mayor and a letter to residents talking about the rewards and talking about how to access the site and the rewards available.”

He added that the City Council would have the opportunity to approve those letters before they get sent out.

Mayor Suzanne Pixley said that she has seen more people recycling around town than ever before, and that there are computers at the recreation center and the library that people can use to sign up for the rewards program.

The council also discussed residents leaving trash cans in the street. Guastella said people have been leaving them there despite city rules prohibiting it, and he wanted garbage collectors to start leaving the carts where they were found so code enforcement knows who is violating it.

Baretta said Rizzo faces a problem where the driveways are usually too narrow to set the cans there, as is the grassy right-of-way between the sidewalk and street, limiting where the cans can go for most people. Additionally, he said they received complaint calls from people for leaving the garbage cans on the grass.

Sweeney suggested setting up a workshop between the council, Rizzo representatives and other city officials to amend the ordinance, if possible, to reflect the reality on the ground. 

Duchane said the problem usually comes down to someone taking the law to the extreme, like leaving a can in the middle of the road, but it was worth discussing.

“Sometimes, public policy and law has to adjust to practical practices,” he said. “It may be time to put a little logic into the public law.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kevin Bunch at kbunch@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.