Unless there is a change in mindset regarding the tray-return programme, it will fizzle out and not achieve its planned benefits ("Cleaners briefed on tray-return programme" by the National Environment Agency; July 20).
Here are some issues:
- Trays occupying too much space. If I do not remove my tray after sitting down with my meal, this will result in a less comfortable eating experience for the person seated next to me.
Thus, people will remove their trays for a better meal experience, but will usually leave them on the floor instead of taking them back to the food stall or tray stations.
- The problem of returning the trays.
I was at Amoy Street Food Centre with my colleagues for lunch once, when we spotted a free table on which the previous patrons had left their trays and plates. I decided that we were better off clearing that table ourselves by returning the trays.
As I was doing so, however, I began getting shouted at by one of the cleaners who did not want us to return the plates and trays.
Many cleaners do not allow the patrons to return the food trays as they are afraid of losing their jobs if everyone did so.
In fact, some cleaners even encourage patrons not to return their trays so that they can still perform their function.
Whenever I eat at any of these places, I never return my tray, because the cleaners themselves have told me that they still need a job.
I hope the tray-return initiative by the National Environment Agency achieves its objectives and creates a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Stewart Sanjay Soloman