Dumped supermarket trolleys are blighting the environment and draining local council resources, and retailers must do more to tackle it, says the Local Government Association (LGA).
The LGA has released a report which found that 1.5 million supermarket trolleys are dumped each year around the country. Many end up in canals and rivers causing flooding and blockages.
The LGA called for supermarkets to work more closely with councils on the clean-up as well as increasing measures to stop trolleys being stolen and dumped in the first place. These might include beefed up bollards or security gates, increased CCTV in stores, awareness campaigns and more wheel locking devices that activate when trolleys are taken beyond supermarket perimeters.
The association also wants retailers and manufacturers to contribute more towards the cost of cleaning up after fly-tipping and littering. The statement follows a recent report that found the cost to local authorities of cleaning up fly-tipping was £50m a year and had increased for the second year running.
Wychavon Council, for example, has retrieved 30 trolleys so far this year, at a cost of around £3,000. While councils can reclaim some of the costs from retailers, it is a time-consuming process.
Peter Box, LGA environment spokesman, said: “Supermarkets need to slam the brakes on trolley thefts because the country is becoming blighted with abandoned carts. Councils, who are doing everything they can to tackle this burgeoning blight, are being left with a major clear-up bill. We want to see the supermarket giants step up their game and show real leadership over this issue.
“At a time when councils face difficult choices about services in the light of reducing budgets, they are having to spend millions each year on tackling litter and fly-tipping, including abandoned shopping trolleys. This is money that would be better spent on vital front-line services. Litter and fly-tipping are environmental vandalism – they are unpleasant, unnecessary and unacceptable.
“There are a number of changes that would help to tackle littering and fly-tipping, including sharing more of the responsibility with product producers – such as retailers and manufacturers – to contribute to the costs of clear up, and giving councils more effective powers to deter fly-tippers.”