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Lost shopping carts? There's an app for that


The supermarket world is inundated with apps. There are apps to compile shopping lists, apps that scan barcodes, apps that purport to know which aisle of the local supermarket the ketchup is kept in…there’s even a fun little app that lets people test their grocery bagging skills.

These apps are interesting and some may eventually prove useful for shoppers. But I’ve found one app that is good for both shoppers, stores and the planet right now.

It’s called Trolleywise and it gets abandoned shopping carts off the streets.

Here’s how it works: When someone stumbles across a shopping cart that’s been left by the side of the road, in a ditch or anywhere else, all they need to do is take a photo of the cart with their phone and use the app to report its GPS location.

The info is sent directly to Trolleywise, a not-for-profit that promises to pick up the cart within 24 hours with one of its 47 vans. The cart is then taken to one of Trolleywise’s depots where retailers can retrieve it.

Though the app is brand new, Trolleywise was actually set up several years ago by the shopping cart maker Wanzl UK Group.

Trolleywise’s managing director, Tony Barber, says his group has retrieved almost one million shopping carts since 2012 and believes the app will not only speed up the pickup process, it’ll help get even more carts off of streets and out of creeks, forests and ditches.

Trolleywise is backed financially by several of the U.K.’s major grocery chains, including Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury. But even chains that do not support Trolleywise can tap into the program to get their carts back.

Most people who come across an abandoned shopping cart don’t have any idea what to do about it.  Usually they just leave it where it is. Or if it’s blocking a sidewalk or on their lawn, they merely push it up the road a ways in the hopes that someone else will deal with the problem. (Yeah, I did that once.)

Trolleywise estimates more than two million shopping carts are in circulation in the U.K. but that up to 400,000 go “missing in action” every year.

To encourage people to report missing shopping carts, Trolleywise says it will contribute money to Trees for Cities, a tree-planting charity.

If you've come across a similar shopping-cart retrieval program here, let me know? If not, do you think such a program could work in Canada? Let me know at [email protected].

In the meantime, check out this video about Trolleywise.

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