Much effort has been expended to encourage patrons in foodcourts and hawker centres to return their trays after a meal ("Finished eating? Robot will pause for your tray"; Oct 30, "It pays to return your tray - and it's easy too"; Sept 7, "A return policy worth tabling"; May 15, and "S'pore diners still fare poorly in returning trays"; May 9).
There has been some improvement in the number of people returning trays but the number is not up to expectations.
The key to the successful development of a "tray-return culture" would be to appeal to the charitable nature of Singaporeans.
In foodcourts and hawker centres, for every tray returned, a token amount of money could be donated to a charity organisation. The organisations could be decided on by residents of the respective constituency, with the help of residents' committees.
The selected organisations could be given prominent display at the tray-return stations, together with the accumulated amount. This is to provide transparency and avoid any unnecessary suspicion on the management of the donation.
Also, we could get help from students to encourage their family members and parents to support the push towards a tray-return culture.
For every tray returned by the students, they could be awarded with a stamp. For every stamp collected by students of each school, an additional amount of donation could go to the school fund to help the needy in their school.
The top three schools with the most stamps collected could be rewarded with more funds for their school.
We could employ such methods until a perfect solution is in place when no push is needed for tray return.
Lim Tong Wah