Abandoned shopping carts pose safety concern in High Point

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HIGH POINT, N.C. — Abandoned shopping carts pose a safety concern in High Point. City officials say they block roads and waterways.

The area surrounding Main Street is one of the worst in the city for abandoned shopping carts. That’s because some people use them to transport groceries if they don’t have another method of transportation. City workers drive around every day to pick them up.

Melanie Bruton oversees the city’s scrapyard, which is responsible for melting down stray shopping carts.

“I’ve worked for the city for 19 years and we’ve seen shopping carts at every clean-up we’ve had and a lot of illegal dumpsites. Last week we had around 25 carts that were delivered out here. Usually, it’s about 50 every couple of weeks,” said Bruton, who is the superintendent of material recovery for High Point.

Once carts are picked up by city services, they are taken to the sanitation department and store owners are contacted.

“They give them 30 days to get back with them and let them know if they’re going to come pick them up or not,” Bruton said.

“If they come pick it up, then they come pick it up. If they don’t, after a few months they take it to the material recycling facility,” Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Jason Ewing said.

As of Wednesday, that process will change.

“We will send notification letters out to the business owners, the store managers, let them know we found ‘X’ number of their carts. We’ve returned them and just ask that they do a better job of policing where those carts disappear to and that they recapture those carts,” Ewing said.

A single cart is worth about $80.

“For some retailers that’s an expense they don’t want to have to pay out on a frequent basis,” Ewing said.

Bruton hopes the new process will keep carts out of the scrapyard and at their respective stores.

“It seems like there’s been a lot more in the last year,” Bruton said.

Of the roughly 50 carts picked up each month, only a few, if any, are picked up by store managers. Almost all end up being recycled.

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