Home News Councils count the cost of removing fly-tipping and abandoned shopping trolleys

Councils count the cost of removing fly-tipping and abandoned shopping trolleys


Supermarket giants must slam the brakes on shopping trolley thefts, as council leaders say abandoned carts are ‘blighting’ the nation’s streets and waterways.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, warns the number of dumped trolleys is currently running at over 1.5 million a year. Councils up and down the country are doing everything they can to tackle the spreading ‘scourge’. However, hard-pressed local authorities, who are having to make the best of significantly reduced budgets, are being left with a massive clear-up headache. Many trolleys end up in rivers and canals and councils are being forced to stem floods and remove blockages.

Now the LGA is calling for supermarkets to work with councils to combat the trolley thieves and tackle the issue at source. It is also urging the chains to consider introducing more measures in their stores to make it harder to steal trolleys: such as beefed-up bollards and security gates; increased CCTV in store premises; awareness campaigns; and more wheel locking devices which activate when trolleys are taken beyond supermarket perimeters. Local authorities can try and claim the costs of removal, storage and disposal of abandoned carts from trolley owners. However, it is a time-consuming and bureaucratic process. The LGA wants the system to be streamlined so it is quick and easy for councils to get compensation. The best solution, however, would be if supermarkets stopped the problem at source by making it harder to steal trolleys.

Dumped trolleys and irresponsible fly-tipping are an eyesore and the costs are mounting up on councils. Government figures released this week (October 20th) reveal fly-tipping has increased for the second year running and the clear-up cost is nearly £50 million.

This bill for removing the fly-tipped trolleys forms part of the £10 billion cost pressures councils will face by 2020, a comprehensive new LGA analysis ahead of the Government’s forthcoming Spending Review has revealed. The LGA is calling on the Government to consider these pressures when making its spending decisions over the next five years. Councils also want manufacturers and supermarkets to contribute more to the cost of clearing up fly-tipping and litter generally.

Cllr Peter Box, the LGA’s 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 is environmental vandalism – it’s unpleasant, unnecessary and unacceptable.

“There are a number of changes that would help 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.”


Case studies


So far this year Wychavon has collected about 30 trolleys from watercourses alone which is estimated to have cost the taxpayer in the region of £3,000.


The council is working closely with retailers to reduce the number of abandoned shopping trolleys in the city.


Abandoned shopping trolleys look unsightly and can fall into rivers and streams which can cause blockages and flooding. Teignbridge proactively encourages people to report abandoned trolleys directly to the supermarkets.

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