Tackle nitty-gritty for tray-return initiative to work

There are some problems that must be solved in order for the tray-return initiative to work ("Finished eating? Here's coffee if you clear your own tray"; July 7).

Many of our dishes come with soup and any spillage causes the clothes to be dirtied.

To clear the bowls and plates, the soupy contents must be discarded. Cleaners are the only ones equipped to do the job of clearing such utensils.

They must first discard the soupy contents into a plastic bag-lined bin before stacking the empty bowls and plates.

When bowls are placed next to plates in a tray, it is difficult for a person to place his tray above the previous tray. During peak hours, the shelves fill up quickly, and because it is difficult to put the trays on top of another, many people generally avoid returning the trays.

The shelves at the lowest level are difficult to reach and also avoided.

The difficulties involved make tray returning a tough initiative to promote, especially when the people's attitude is such that even when it is convenient to do so, like at McDonald's fast-food restaurants, where the bins are just a few steps away without any messy food, many diners still do not bother to clear up.

As long as there is no mindset change, the debate over whether sticks or carrots will work is moot.

Tim Tio