The legions of abandoned shopping trolleys that have littered suburban streets could become a thing of the past following the tightening of impounding laws in NSW.
Local Government NSW President Linda Scott said the new Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Bill 2021, which was introduced into NSW Parliament this week, is a significant improvement on existing laws.
“These abandoned trolleys pose a very real risk to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, while others clog our local waterways,” said Ms Scott.
She added: “There are 8,900 supermarkets right across NSW, and thousands more stores offering the use of shopping trolleys every day – recently four western Sydney councils alone collected 550 abandoned trolleys in a single day.”
According to Ms Scott, the widely-used Trolley Tracker app has reported more than three million abandoned trolleys since it was launched, which gives local councils an idea of the scope of the problem.
The Trolley Tracker app works by allowing people to report abandoned shopping trolleys in the neighbourhood for retailers, such as Woolworths, Big W, IKEA and Dan Murphy.
Each time you report a shopping trolley using the app you go in the draw to win a $1,000 prize.
“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,” explained Ms Scott.
Fines of up to $13,750 for owners of abandoned property
Ms Scott said the new bill marked a considerable improvement of the Impounding Act 1993, which is almost 30 years' old.
The new legislation will put a three-hour collection time limit on trolleys, vehicles or other items causing a safety hazard, and a seven-day limit for others.
Fines ranging from $660 trolley to $13,750 would be applied, depending on the nature, number and time the items remained.
“Essentially these new rules put the onus right back on the owners to ensure their property is not abandoned throughout our communities,” said Ms Scott.
This means that supermarkets, such as Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, and any other retailers who provide shopping trolleys, will be responsible for removing these items from the community within an appropriate time frame.
However, the items go beyond shopping trolleys, extending to items such as unregistered vehicles.
Councils to save almost $10 million on shopping trolley collection
“Right now the community is spending more than $17 million each year recovering these trolleys; the new cost-recovery components in the legislation means councils alone will be able to claw back almost $10 million of this cost,” she said.
The legislation will also benefit other agencies responsible for keeping public spaces clear, including the police.
“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,” she added.
“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 this problem.”
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