Transport Canberra and City Services


Frequently Asked Questions

Amendments to the Litter Act 2004

FAQs for customers

FAQS for retailers

Frequently asked questions for customers

This document provides information and advice to the Canberra community on changes to legislation related to shopping trolley use and misuse.

What is the new legislation?

From Wednesday, 2 March 2011, it became an offence in the ACT to remove a trolley from a shopping centre or to use or leave a trolley outside a shopping centre precinct.

From this date, retailers and the community had an increased responsibility to help reduce the number of shopping trolleys that go missing and that litter the ACT.

Amendments to the Litter Act 2004 implemented three key remedies to discourage abandonment and other improper uses of shopping trolleys in the ACT. These are:
  • the creation of offences against the improper use of shopping trolleys;
  • the provision of identification on shopping trolleys to assist their collection if abandoned; and
  • a proactive trolley collection scheme that allows the Government to respond to a trolley problem in a specific area.

Why did the legislation need to be changed?

Amendments to the Litter Act 2004 were made to reduce the number of shopping trolleys going missing and littering the ACT. Abandoned shopping trolleys clutter our urban areas, parks, lakes and waterways, can cause injury to pedestrians and cyclists and can be difficult and costly to retrieve.

Currently, the problem of abandoned shopping trolleys is handled primarily by the retailers who own the abandoned trolleys. Retailers engage contractors to patrol the suburbs around their stores to collect any abandoned trolleys they encounter. Some retailers in the ACT have also signed up to the national Trolley Tracker notification service to encourage members of the public to report any abandoned shopping trolleys that they find.

Despite the current arrangements, abandoned shopping trolleys still appear throughout the ACT. Changes to the existing Litter Act 2004 enable the ACT Government to take a more proactive role in managing and assisting retailers control the misuse of shopping trolleys in their area.

As a customer, what do I need to know?

Members of the public who remove a trolley from a shopping centre or leave a trolley outside a shopping centre precinct run the risk of being fined. Under the Litter Act 2004, an authorised person may give written direction to an individual to return a shopping trolley to a retailer's premises. Failure to comply with this direction may result in a fine.

As part of the amendments to the legislation, an authorised person will not give a written direction for a person to return a shopping trolley if it is harsh or unreasonable. This would cover situations where, for example, a parent would have to leave young children alone in a car in order to return a trolley to a shopping centre precinct.

If an abandoned trolley is identified by an authorised person they will place a trolley removal notice on it and then contact the retail owner. The retailer will be provided with details of the trolley's location and will be given 24 hours to collect it. Under the amended legislation it is an offence for a person other than the retailer or an authorised trolley collector to remove, deface or interfere with a removal notice which has been attached to a shopping trolley.

Who is an authorised person under the Litter Act 2004?

An authorised person under the Litter Act 2004 could be an ACT Government city ranger or a police officer.

What is the shopping trolley hotline?

As part of the amendments to the Litter Act 2004 the ACT Government operates a shopping trolley hotline, via Access Canberra on 13 22 81, to assist the public with reporting abandoned shopping trolleys in their area. Contact details of the retailer as well as Access Canberra must be displayed on each individual shopping trolley.

People are encouraged to make use of the shopping trolley hotline service to help reduce the number of abandoned trolleys in the ACT.

What is the trolley collection scheme?

As part of the amendments to the Litter Act 2004 a trolley collection scheme has been implemented by the ACT Government to collect abandoned trolleys where they have not been picked up by the retailer. The scheme involves financial disincentives for retailers who do not manage the collection of their own trolleys.

The ACT Government may remove an abandoned trolley without notice to the retailer if there is potential for the trolley to cause injury to a person or animal or to damage property or a public place. The Government may also remove an abandoned trolley without notice if it is impractical for the retailer to do so themselves. For example, the trolley may be abandoned in a stormwater drain and special equipment is required to remove it.

Under the scheme the ACT Government is able to give retailers two days' notice that a trolley collection sweep will be conducted in their area. Any trolleys not collected by retailers before the notified collection day will be removed by the ACT Government to a retention area. Any reasonable costs incurred by the Government in handling trolleys detected on the collection day will be charged to the retailer concerned. This includes the cost of removal and storage of the trolley and any costs associated with destroying and recycling the trolley if it is not subsequently retrieved by its owner. Payment of removal and storage costs is compulsory and is not dependent on whether or not the retailer collects the trolley. The trolley can only be retrieved after payment of the reasonable costs incurred by the ACT Government. The current fee is $112.50.

How is compliance of the new legislation monitored?

ACT Government city rangers identify abandoned trolleys during their regular patrols of Canberra suburbs. They also respond to any reports from the general public of abandoned trolleys.

In addition to this city rangers also conduct sweeps of Canberra suburbs as part of the trolley collection scheme. Retailers are notified if their trolleys have been found and requested that they remove them. City rangers and the police can also issue a direction to members of the public who are seen with a shopping trolley outside a shopping centre precinct to return the trolley to the retailer's premises. If the individual fails to comply with this direction they can be issued with an infringement notice.

As a customer, what will happen if I do not comply?

Below is a summary of the offences under the new laws with their maximum penalties. One penalty unit equals $110 for an individual.

Offence Penalty
Failure to comply with a direction to return a shopping trolley. $60 infringement notice
Maximum penalty: 10 penalty units
Removing, defacing or interfering with a removal notice attached to a shopping trolley. $60 infringement notice
Maximum penalty: 5 penalty units

Frequently asked questions for the retailer

This document provides information and advice to retailers on the changes to legislation related to shopping trolley use and misuse.

What is the new legislation?

From Wednesday, 2 March 2011, it became an offence in the ACT to remove a trolley from a shopping centre or to use or leave a trolley outside a shopping centre precinct.

From this date retailers and the community have an increased responsibility to help reduce the number of shopping trolleys that go missing and that litter the ACT.

Amendments to the Litter Act 2004 implemented three key remedies to discourage abandonment and other improper uses of shopping trolleys in the ACT. These are:

  • the creation of offences against the improper use of shopping trolleys;
  • the provision of identification on shopping trolleys to assist their collection if abandoned; and
  • a proactive trolley collection scheme that allows the Government to respond to a trolley problem in a specific area.

Why did the legislation need to be changed?

Amendments to the Litter Act 2004 have been made to reduce the number of shopping trolleys going missing and littering the ACT. Abandoned shopping trolleys pollute our urban areas, parks, lakes and waterways and can be difficult and costly to retrieve.

Currently, the problem of abandoned shopping trolleys is handled in the ACT primarily by the retailers who own the abandoned trolleys. Retailers engage contractors to patrol the suburbs around their stores to collect any abandoned trolleys they encounter. Some retailers in the ACT have also signed up to the national Trolley Tracker notification service to encourage members of the public to report any abandoned shopping trolleys that they find.

Despite the current arrangements, abandoned shopping trolleys still appear throughout the ACT. Changes to the existing Litter Act 2004 enable the ACT Government to take a more proactive role in managing and assisting retailers control the misuse of their shopping trolleys in their area.

Do the changes apply to all retailers?

The offence of 'failing to keep a shopping trolley within a shopping centre precinct' does not apply if the retailer operates and maintains an approved trolley containment system at its premises or takes reasonable steps to ensure that a trolley is not removed from a shopping centre precinct.

As a retailer, what do I need to know?

Identification

Under the new legislation, retailers are required to display certain information on their shopping trolleys. This includes:

  • retailer's name;
  • location of the store;
  • contact telephone number for the retailer or a person authorised by the retailer to collect their trolleys; and
  • the telephone number for the ACT Government shopping trolley hotline (Access Canberra 13 22 81).
Notice to customers

It is important that the community is well informed of their obligations under the new laws. As part of the new legislation, retailers are required to install a notice at the exit of their premises informing shoppers of the new laws.

The notice must describe that retailer's shopping centre precinct and be situated in a spot that can be seen and easily read by any person leaving the retailer's premises. The description of the shopping centre precinct could be a map or a verbal description. The notice must also contain the following statement:

Under the Litter Act 2004, fines can apply for taking, using or leaving a shopping trolley outside this shopping centre precinct.

The signage requirement aims to build greater awareness among shoppers that removing trolleys from a shopping centre precinct is an offence.

Trolley collection scheme

As part of the amendments to the Litter Act 2004 a trolley collection scheme has been implemented by the ACT Government to collect abandoned trolleys where they have not been picked up by the retailer. The scheme involves financial disincentives for retailers who do not manage the collection of their own trolleys.

If an abandoned trolley is identified by a city ranger or police officer they place a trolley removal notice on it and then contact the retail owner. The retailer is provided with details of the trolley's location and is given 24 hours to collect it. Under the new legislation it is an offence for a person to remove, deface or interfere with a removal notice which has been attached to a shopping trolley.

The ACT Government may remove the trolley without notice to the retailer if there is potential for the trolley to cause injury to a person or animal or to damage property or a public place. The Government may also remove an abandoned trolley without notice if it is impractical for the retailer to do so themselves. For example, the trolley may be abandoned in a lake and special equipment is required to remove it.

Under the Collection Day scheme the ACT Government is able to give retailers two days' notice that a trolley collection sweep will be conducted in their area. Any trolleys not collected by retailers before the notified collection day are removed by the ACT Government to a retention area. Any reasonable costs incurred by the Government in handling trolleys detected on the collection day are charged to the retailer concerned. This includes the cost of removal and storage of the trolley and any costs associated with destroying and recycling the trolley if it is not subsequently retrieved by the owner. Payment of removal and storage costs is compulsory and is not dependent on whether or not the retailer collects the trolley. The trolley can only be retrieved after payment of the reasonable costs incurred by the ACT Government. The current fee is $112.50.

What is the shopping trolley hotline?

As part of the amendments to the Litter Act 2004 the ACT Government operates a shopping trolley hotline, via Access Canberra on 13 22 81, to assist the public with reporting abandoned shopping trolleys in their area. Contact details of the retailer as well as Access Canberra must be displayed on each individual shopping trolley.

People are encouraged to make use of the shopping trolley hotline service to help reduce the number of abandoned trolleys in the ACT.

How is compliance of the new legislation be monitored?

ACT Government city rangers identify abandoned trolleys during their regular patrols of Canberra suburbs. They also respond to any reports from the general public of abandoned trolleys.

In addition to this city rangers also conduct sweeps of Canberra suburbs as part of the trolley collection scheme. Retailers are notified if their trolleys have been found and requested that they remove them. City rangers and the police can also issue a direction to members of the public who are seen with a shopping trolley outside a shopping centre precinct to return the trolley to the retailer's premises. If the individual fails to comply with this direction they can be issued with an infringement

As a retailer, what can happen if I do not comply with the new laws?

Below is a summary of the offences under the new laws with their maximum penalties. One penalty unit equals $110 for an individual and $550 for a corporation.

Offence Penalty
Failure to display a notice about taking a shopping trolley outside of a shopping centre precinct. On the spot fine of $200
Maximum penalty: 10 penalty units
Failure to display identification on your shopping trolley. On the spot fine of $20
Maximum penalty: 10 penalty units
Failure to keep a shopping trolley within your shopping centre precinct.
Please note: this offence does not apply if the retailer operates and maintains a trolley containment system at its premises or takes reasonable steps to ensure that a trolley is not removed from a shopping centre precinct. The offence also does not apply for the first 12 months to any retailer who owns less than 40 trolleys for the operation of their business.
Maximum penalty: 60 penalty units
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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

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