Trolleys dumped in river cost supermarket £30,000

A judge at Chelmsford Crown Court has fined the supermarket chain Tesco £30,000 for knowingly allowing a considerable number of their trolleys to be dumped in two rivers in Chelmsford town centre, causing a serious reduction in amenity value and posing a threat to navigation.

Tescos was fined £15,000 for each of two separate offences taking place between April 1999 and April 2000 and also between May and August 2000, and the company was also ordered to pay costs of over £7,500. Prior to April 1999, both the Environment Agency and Chelmsford Borough Council had raised concerns with Tesco regarding the number of shopping trolleys being dumped in the River Can and River Chelmer where they run through Chelmsford town centre. However, during a ‘spring clean’ of the rivers during this month the Environment Agency removed 51 shopping trolleys from the River Chelmer, 33 of which were clearly identifiable as belonging to Tesco.

According to the supermarket chain, the trolleys had been thrown into the river by vandals. “We do not believe our customers would be mindless enough to throw our trolleys in the river,” a Tesco spokesman told edie. The company has brought in a number of measures to prevent similar problems in the future, culminating in a deposit system for the trolleys at the supermarket, which, the Tesco spokesman explained, is unpopular with their customers. The supermarket has also stepped up patrols of the car park, and instigated regular trolley counts, followed by wider patrols to find missing trolleys, and a weekly van patrol of the area. The company has also sponsored ‘litter picks’ by cub scouts, providing skips and other equipment for them, as well as hiring in contractors to remove further trolleys from the rivers. These combined measures have drastically reduced the number of trolleys being dumped in the rivers, the Tesco spokesman said.

In general, the supermarket chain has found that the worst areas for trolleys being dumped in this way is in student cities, where students push the trolleys home because they have no cars, and then leave them on the streets from where they are taken by vandals. Where Tesco knows this is happening, vans are now being sent to the worst hot-spots in order to return the trolleys to their rightful home.

“It’s a problem all retailers face to some extent,” said the spokesman, stating that as the problem in Chelmsford was an act of vandalism, they are unable to guarantee that such an occurrence will not happen again.

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