Collective effort to encourage tray return

We thank readers for their feedback ("Reward those who return their trays" by Mr Seah Yam Meng, and "Practice must extend beyond school canteen" by Ms Oei Khoen Hwa, both published on May 11, and "Impose coin-deposit system to encourage tray returns" by Mr Sum Siew Kee; May 12).

As part of the Keep Singapore Clean Movement, foodcourt operators, fast-food chains and other food establishments under the Tray Return Partnership (TRP), schools, community organisations and corporations encourage their stakeholders to return their trays wherever they dine.

Some schools, community organisations and corporations also conduct tray-return outreach at hawker centres.

This is part of the collective effort to promote greater civic consciousness and keep Singapore clean.

Besides hawker centres, 47 TRP participants, with close to 700 food outlets, including foodcourts and quick-service restaurants, have come on board since the launch of the Tray Return Partnership in May 2013.

Many people have the misconception that returning their trays after meals will not only cause cleaners to lose their jobs but also allow food operators to enjoy greater profits because they do not need cleaners anymore.

On the contrary, it is the patrons who will benefit.

If everyone returns their trays, cleaners will be able to focus on cleaning the tables quickly.

The turnaround will be faster for patrons who are waiting for a clean table.

The Public Hygiene Council will work together with the National Environment Agency (NEA) and partners, such as the Singapore Kindness Movement, to harness support from TRP participants, schools, community organisations and corporations, as well as focus on outreach programmes and initiatives to bring about better awareness on the benefits of practising tray return.

The NEA, together with the Hawker Centre 3.0 Committee, will also look into designing new hawker centres with built-in tray-return facilities that are more visible and prominent as well as in accessible locations.

The Public Hygiene Council will also be happy to help TRP participants train their employees in engaging and encouraging patrons to return trays.

Returning our trays when we dine in foodcourts and hawker centres helps create a cleaner and more conducive dining environment.

More importantly, it contributes to a more gracious society.

Edward D'Silva


Public Hygiene Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Collective effort to encourage tray return'. Print Edition | Subscribe