New Laws To Crack Down On Shopping Trolleys

18 Nov 2021 environment

Irresponsible supermarket operators would face on-the-spot fines for failing to collect abandoned shopping trolleys from public places under sweeping reforms to NSW’s impounding laws.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock introduced the Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Bill 2021 to Parliament last week to make our valuable public places safer and more enjoyable for communities across the State.

Mrs Hancock said the overhaul of the Impounding Act would see owners of shopping trolleys, unregistered cars and trailers and stray stock face harsh penalties if they do not remove them from public places within risk-based timeframes.

“These sensible new laws meet community expectations for safe, accessible and useable open spaces now and into the future,” Mrs Hancock said.

“Abandoned items such as shopping trolleys and unregistered vehicles are not only a safety hazard and nuisance but a blight on streets, footpaths, nature strips and other public places across the state.

“We are now future-proofing our laws to arm councils, police and other public land managers with strong powers to take swift and effective action and rid our open spaces of the scourge of abandoned and unattended items.

“These new laws resolve key concerns our communities have been raising for years and years. We are now putting the obligations firmly on property owners and others responsible for items left in public places to do the right thing and remove them within risk-based timeframes or face harsher penalties, more rapid impounding action and enforcement orders.”

Member for Oatley Mark Coure, who chaired two workshops regarding the reforms earlier this year, said the NSW Government is modernising the Impounding Act after carrying out the first comprehensive review since it was introduced 28 years ago.

“Items abandoned or left unattended in public places cause significant economic, environmental and social costs to our community,” Mr Coure said.

“In particular, shopping trolleys have continued to be a real concern to the community over time and it is clear that regulatory change is necessary.

“We recognise that supermarket operators are already implementing voluntary options such as trolley trackers, trolley collections, and coin deposit schemes and these measures are making a difference.

“It costs the NSW community $17 million a year to deal with abandoned and unattended shopping trolleys, vehicles and animals in public places. These reforms will cut these costs by 60 per cent saving at least $9.7 million a year for councils, other public land managers and the community.

“The changes have been developed following widespread consultation with councils, members of the public, industry/business groups, retailers, peak bodies and government agencies.”

PROPOSED MODEL FOR PENALTIES AND RISK-BASED TIMEFRAMES

Shopping trolleys

  • Supermarkets would face an on-the-spot fine of $660 for failing to collect a shopping trolley from a public place within three hours of being notified if it is causing an obstruction or safety risk, or within four days of being given notice if left unattended for seven days or more in a public place
  • A further 10 per cent ($66) would be added to the fine for each additional trolley in the same spot (up to 11 in total) to reflect the greater access and amenity issues caused by unattended groups of trolleys
  • Individual retailers would face a court-imposed penalty of up to $2,750 and a maximum of $13,750 for corporations for more serious offences
  • A mandatory code of practice would provide clarity for supermarket operators and enforcement authorities to greatly reduce the impact of trolleys
  • Exemptions would apply for small businesses with less than 25 trolleys.

 Vehicles

  • Owners of unregistered vehicles including cars, boat trailers and caravans left in public places would face an on-the-spot fine of $660, a court penalty of up to $2,750, and/or have their vehicle impounded
  • Action would be taken immediately where a vehicle is causing an obstruction or safety risk, after 15 days’ notice for an unregistered vehicle parked on the roadside, or after 28 days’ notice for abandoned/unattended vehicles.

Animals

  • Owners of animals (other than cats and dogs) who have acted negligently would face an on-the-spot fine of $660 for an animal that gets out and strays on neighbours’ properties or onto public roads or places
  • A further 10% ($66) would be added to the fine for each additional animal (up to 11 in total)
  • Animal owners would face court-imposed penalties of up to $2,750, or $13,750 for corporations for more serious offences
  • Authorities would have powers to issue orders to prevent further incidents, such as requiring fence repairs, and to deal with animals on roads in emergencies and other urgent circumstances.