Needing coins to unlock shopping trolleys and having them scattered in streets and carparks could be a thing of the past thanks to new Aussie made tech.
World-first technology that tracks shopping trolley movements and unlocks them with a QR code could be a boon for consumers and help supermarkets avoid fines of more than $13,000 for abandoned carts.
The Trolley Data Management Network (TDMN) has developed a coinless shopping trolley lock and GPS tracking system that could prevent trolleys being dumped in streets, carparks or waterways – a problem that costs councils and businesses thousands each year to remove or repair.
The Australian-owned and made tech works when users first unlock the trolley via the sMart Shop App.
Then by scanning a QR code, a $2 deposit is made to unlock the trolley and that money is given back once the trolley is returned and relocked.
Thanks to the sMart Lock System, shoppers no longer need to carry coins or tokens.
All trolleys have the ability to self-report their GPS location directly to the retailer or trolley collectors’ mobile application with turn by turn navigation if it’s not taken back.
Domenic Ammendolia, the founder and chief executive of the NSW-based company, said a successful five-month trial of the GPS technology was recently run at the Harris Farm Markets in Manley and will soon be rolled out to other stores.
“The store manager (at Manly) was blown away at how accurate we were able to track trolleys that were off site and how fast and easy it was for their team members to retrieve them,” Mr Ammendolia told NCA NewsWire.
There is also international interest in TDMN, with retailers in the UK looking at the technology.
Mr Ammendolia said the concept first came to him when he realised consumers paid for everything else with a card or a smartphone and didn’t carry coins to unlock trolleys.
“I thought ‘why can I pay for groceries with Apple Pay, everybody’s using credit cards, others use Google Pay, but I need a coin for the trolley?’
“We can save retailers and … local councils money by adopting this system, and a little bit of the onus is put back on the user.
“So many people are concerned about the environment and environmental damage and property and personal damage caused by trolleys … and if it wasn’t a big issue, it wouldn’t have got to the level of (having bills introduced in) the NSW government.”
Under the Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Bill 2021 that was introduced in the NSW parliament last week, a three-hour collection time limit on trolleys, vehicles and other items causing a safety hazard will apply.
If trolleys aren’t returned to supermarkets, they can be fined between $660 to $13,750.
Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said abandoned trolleys posed a risk to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and clogged local waterways.
She added ratepayers spent more than $17m each year recovering abandoned trolleys.
“There are 8900 supermarkets right across NSW and thousands more stores offering the use of shopping trolleys every day,” Ms Scott said.
“Recently, four western Sydney councils alone collected 550 abandoned trolleys in a single day.”