Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 561 ..
January 2008, Mr Stanhope declared that he wanted to introduce a regime that required retailers to clearly mark their shopping trolleys. He said that owners who did not collect dumped trolleys within a time limit would face a retrieval fee. As I will explain in a moment, this is very similar to the approach that the bill takes.
In recognition of the problems caused by trolleys, the bill sets up a regime to encourage retailers to take more responsibility for their trolleys. First, retailers will need to mark their trolleys with a unique identification number as well as their contact details. They will also need to mark the trolley with a telephone number for a trolley contact service operated by the territory. I expect that this number could simply be Canberra Connect or possibly a relevant part of TAMS.
Marking trolleys with this information will make it easy for the public and authorities to identify the owner of trolleys and to make contact. Members of the public can then contact the retailer, or the territory, to alert them to the abandoned trolley. When an authorised territory officer, or a police officer, identifies a trolley abandoned in a public place, they can attach a removal notice to it. The removal notice will contain details about the trolley, the location, the requirements for removal and the penalties for failure to comply. The notice also lets the public know that the trolley is, in fact, being dealt with by the authorities.
The officer must then give notice to the retailer, via telephone, alerting them of their obligation to remove the trolley. The retailer has 24 hours from the time of this notification to collect the trolley. The unique identifying information marked on the trolley allows authorities to be certain of which trolleys have been left in public places in breach of this requirement. A retailer who still fails to collect the trolley can then be issued an infringement notice. The maximum for an offence is 10 penalty units. However, the bill sets out a scheme for infringement notices, to avoid prosecution. The initial infringement penalty would be $100 or $500 for a corporation. The officers may then impound the trolley.
Once a trolley is impounded, the Uncollected Goods Act applies. Retailers are again notified that their trolley is impounded and that they can collect it. They will then be responsible for the reasonable costs the territory incurred in removing the trolley. An additional amendment under the bill also requires that any trolleys eventually disposed of under the Uncollected Goods Act must be recycled. This ensures they do not simply go to landfill. The bill recognises that in certain circumstances safety concerns mean that a trolley should be removed from a public area straightaway. In these cases officers do not have to leave the trolley for 24 hours. These are situations, for example, where a trolley may be up in a tree or near a busy road.
Importantly, under the scheme, retailers who operate a trolley containment system at their store are exempt from fines. Trolley containment systems are devices or actions taken to prevent trolleys leaving the retailer’s premises in the first place. An example is the refundable coin system, where trolleys are locked until a $2 coin or token is deposited. Evidence suggests that these systems can make a significant difference to wandering trolleys. I received feedback from Supabarn about the coin lock mechanism, for example. They said: