Rachel Fieldhouse

Money & Banking

Supermarkets could face fines of $13,750 over MAJOR issue

Supermarkets could face fines of $13,750 over MAJOR issue

A law that could drastically cut down on the number of trolleys left abandoned has just been introduced in New South Wales, coming as a significant improvement to current laws.

The new Public Spaces (Unattended Property Bill 2021 was introduced by NSW Parliament this week, which Local Government NSW President Linda Scott said has come after numerous past efforts failed to address the issue.

“These abandoned trolleys pose a very real risk to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, while others clog our local waterways,” Ms Scott said.

“There are 8,900 supermarkets right across NSW, and thousands more stores offering the use of shopping trolleys every day,” she added, noting that, “recently four Western Sydney councils alone collected 550 abandoned trolleys in a single day”.

Ms Scott said the popular app Trolley Tracker has reported over three million abandoned trolleys since it was launched in 1994, capturing the extent of the problem local councils are dealing with.

The app works by allowing people to report abandoned trolleys belonging to retailers such as Dan Murphy’s, Woolworths, Big W and IKEA.

Each time a person makes a report, they enter a draw to win $1,000.

Despite the incentives, Ms Scott said trolleys continued to plague NSW neighbourhoods.

“Past efforts to deal with the problem, including deposit-based systems, geofencing, wheel locks and trolley trackers have not prevented the abandonment of millions of trolleys, which is why local governments have pushed so hard for legislative change just like this,” she explained.

Ms Scott said the new bill is a significant improvement to the almost 30-year-old Impounding Act 1993, by placing the onus on retailers to collect their trolleys.

Under the new legislation, a three-hour collection time limit will be placed on trolleys, vehicles and other items causing a safety hazard, and a seven-day limit on others.

Fines range from $660 to $13,750, depending on the items left abandoned and how long it takes for them to be collected.

“Essentially these new rules put the onus right back on the owners to ensure their property is not abandoned throughout our communities,” Ms Scott said.

Those who fail to collect items can also face harsher penalties and enforcement orders according to Ms Scott.

As a result, supermarkets such as Coles, Woolworths and ALDI, as well as other retailers who provide trolleys, will be responsible for removing abandoned items within an appropriate time frame.

Ms Scott said the cost-recovery aspects of the new law will help the community save almost $10 million of the $17 million spent each year to recover trolleys.

The legislation will also apply to other items such as abandoned vehicles and will help police and other agencies keep public spaces clear.

“Officers will now be able to enter an abandoned motor vehicle to identify its owners, and then charge that individual fees for recovery and possible storage of that item,” Ms Scott said.

“It’s a sensible move, and councils are grateful to the government for the extensive consultation and other work it has done with councils and supermarkets to help resolve the problem.”

Image: Getty Images

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