The UK’s 36m smartphone users now have the power to clean up Britain’s streets through a new free smartphone app that targets the scourge of abandoned trolleys.
Specialist trolley retrieval service provider, Trolleywise, has introduced a simple-to-use, ‘point and click’ tracking technology linked to a national collection service that guarantees errant trolleys are off the street within 24 hours to be returned to the stores or repaired.
Currently, cash-strapped local authorities have the responsibility of rounding up abandoned trolleys and charging the repatriation back to the owner supermarkets – often by way of fines. The new system, which is backed by the major supermarkets, allows consumers to take control of a more rapid and joined-up clean-up.
There are currently more than two million trolleys in circulation in the UK, but up to 400,000 go ‘missing in action’ every year, never to be seen again.
Many more are ‘borrowed’ and end up in canals or ‘joy-ridden’, ultimately being abandoned around town and city centres. The free-to-download Trolleywise app, for both Apple and Android smartphones, allows consumers to photograph the abandoned shopping trolleys, triggering a GPS location system that summons a collection within 24 hours by a specialist Trolleywise team.
Tony Barber, managing director of Trolleywise (a brand of Wanzl UK Group), said: “We have made a substantial impact in managing the abandoned trolley challenge, with Trolleywise retrieving almost one million trolleys since 2012. However, we want to eliminate the problem altogether and return pride to our local communities. The app makes it very easy for people to report trolleys quickly and accurately. By swapping abandoned trolleys for trees, we want to make a positive impact on communities.”
For every trolley collected by Trolleywise, Wanzl will make a donation to independent charity Trees for Cities. The campaign hopes to raise enough money to plant at least 2,000 new trees in Britain’s urban areas each year, the equivalent of taking almost 150 cars off the UK roads.
Sharon Johnson, CEO of Trees for Cities, said: “We often come across abandoned trolleys as part of our tree-planting work in local communities. We hear from our volunteers that there is confusion about how to report them and whose responsibility it is to pick them up. As a result, we’re delighted that Trolleywise has launched this app to make the process so simple. And, in our 20th birthday year, we’re thrilled that Trolleywise will be donating at least 2,000 trees to our tree-planting efforts.”
Since previewing the app earlier this month, support has come in from the government, environmental bodies and the retail industry.
Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said: “Abandoned shopping trolleys are not only unsightly but have a real impact on the local environment. This innovative app will give shoppers and residents the chance to take swift action to tackle the thousands of shopping trolleys scattered around our streets or thrown in rivers and canals. It will play an important role in making our neighbourhoods more pleasant places to live.”
Neil Eccles, Asda operations manager – retail service, said: “While the vast majority of our customers use our trolleys for the purpose they are intended and leave them with us at the end of their shopping trip, a large number do end up going ‘walkies’.
“The Trolleywise app means if anyone spots an Asda trolley somewhere it shouldn’t be, we can collect it. It’s a fantastic innovation and helps us and other retailers clean up the communities we serve.”
A spokesperson from Sainsbury’s said: “All our stores want to be a good neighbour so we work with Trolleywise to ensure any abandoned trolleys are quickly collected. We hope other retailers will follow our lead in recognising their responsibilities to the communities they serve and sign up to this scheme.”
Jeff Whyatt, waterways manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “Around 3,000 shopping trolleys are dumped in the nation’s waterways each year. If you were to stack all the ones we recover on top of one another, they’d be taller than Canary Wharf. It’s mindless, why would anyone really need to dump a trolley in a canal or river? Abandoned trollies are hazardous for boaters, endanger wildlife and, as a charity, we have to spend thousands of pounds to retrieve them, money that could otherwise go improving the canals.”
To celebrate the launch of the app, which is available from www.trolleywise.co.uk, Trolleywise will be giving away an iPad Mini and hundreds of pounds of retail vouchers in regular prize draws over the coming months. To find out more, visit www.trolleywise.co.uk.