As defiant shoppers take trolleys home to evade plastic bag charges, supermarkets are being called on to do more to combat trolley thefts.
Consumers have been taking to social media to post pictures of themselves with shopping trolleys, claiming they would rather lose the £1 they cost to use than pay 5p per bag.
But supermarket chains are being urged to introduce tougher measures to reduce thefts, and stop the “blight” of empty carts being discarded on streets and in canals.
Measures such as increasing CCTV in store premises, awareness campaigns, security gates, and wheel locking devices which activate when trolleys are taken beyond supermarket perimeters are being called for by the Local Government Association (LGA).
Coun Peter Box, the LGA’s environment spokesman, said: “Supermarkets need to slam the brakes on trolley thefts because the country is becoming blighted with abandoned carts.
“Councils, who are doing everything they can to tackle this burgeoning blight, are being left with a major clear-up bill. We want to see the supermarket giants step up their game and show real leadership over this issue.”
He added that at a time when councils are having to make tough budget choices, they are “having to spend millions each year on tackling litter and fly-tipping, including abandoned shopping trolleys”.
The LGA warns that the number of dumped trolleys is running at more than 1.5 million per year, contributing to the almost £50 million the Government says it costs to clear-up fly-tipping.
Local councils throughout the country are making efforts to clean up the problem, but with many trolleys being dumped in rivers and canals, councils are forced to stem floods and remove blockages.
Mr Box said: “There are a number of changes that would help tackle littering and fly-tipping, including sharing more of the responsibility with product producers - such as retailers and manufacturers - to contribute to the costs of clear up, and giving councils more effective powers to deter fly-tippers.”
Councils also want supermarkets and manufacturers to contribute more to the cost of clearing up dumped trolleys and general litter.