Figures released today by retail equipment manufacturer, Wanzl, has revealed that 520,000 abandoned shopping trolleys were reported in the UK in 2017.
They believe the real number could be as high as one million, which would represent 11,000 tonnes of wastes metal a year.
However, according to their research 40% of British shoppers do not see abandoned shopping trolleys as a problem.
With well-manufactured and maintained shopping trolleys having a lifespan of more than fifteen years, the environmental burden of theft or abandonment is significant.
If no action is taken, Wanzl estimates that UK retailers would need to completely replace their trolley fleets every five years, causing a significant environmental impact.
Speaking about the issue, Simon King, Head of Retail Systems and Trolleywise at Wanzl, said: ‘Our retail customers take the issue of trolley abandonment and its impact on the environment very seriously, with the UK having the highest level of trolley loss in the world. We continue to work closely with them to find a way to reduce the numbers.
‘By collecting the trolleys and placing serviceable ones back into stores, we are helping further the principle of the circular economy, essentially keeping resources in circulation for as long as possible.
‘By working together we can tackle the blight of abandoned trolleys in green spaces, waterways and public areas, as well as reducing the environmental impact of manufacturing new trolleys.’
Wanzl is calling on environmentalists, retailers, shoppers and local authorities to get behind a revamped app which allows members of the public to report an abandoned trolley so that it can be collected and returned to its supermarket.
‘With the impact of human activity on the environment weighing heavy on the public conscience at the moment – the war on plastic waste being a high profile example, we are hoping to get lots of public support with this campaign,’ added Mr King.
There are over 60 Trolleywise vans around the UK responding to reports of abandoned trolleys. Users of the app take a photo of the trolley, while geo-location technology pinpoints the location and alerts the local collection team.