Why so hard for Singaporeans to return trays?

Next time go hawker centre buy food want to use tray must think a bit liao.

Depending on which hawker centre you go to, a deposit of 50 cents or a dollar will be imposed for every tray you take. Like the supermarket trolley like that.

If you don’t return the tray to the tray return station, the deposit will be forfeited. In other words, if you take the tray, leave it on your table and lalala walk away, the deposit will become a fine lah.

For now, this new system has been implemented at Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre and Bukit Merah Hawker Centre. Another 23 hawker centres may roll out this system later.

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Some hawkers have feedback that some patrons are more than happy to return the trays so the deposit doesn’t mean much to them. But other patrons are more cao kwan, they buay song must pay deposit and purposely return the trays ONLY, leaving behind the cutlery and crockery on the tables. Extra work for the cleaners.

Why is it so hard to get Singaporeans to return the trays (with their used cutlery and crockery of course) after using?

Maybe Singaporeans are a spoilt bunch. We are so used to “being served” in hawker centres – served food, have someone wipe the tables and clear the dirtied cutlery and crockery – that we think that we pay for these services. Actually, no. This is not a restaurant or a hipster café where GST is being charged for such services. At hawker centres, patrons only pay for the food and not for these extra services.

Aiyah, just return the tray and you will get the deposit back. Not very difficult right?

Now we already have the tray return stations, but it still requires cleaners to manually sort and clean the trays. With the new tray return system, machines will sort the cutlery and crockery and wash the trays, leaving workers to focus on wiping the tables. This should mean that tables are made available to next group of patrons faster.

Some people ask what about the seniors? The tray return station may be too far for them to walk to. They may not know how to use the system to get back the deposit.

True. But for every senior who is unable to walk to the tray return station or does not know how to get back the deposit, I am sure there are more than one person who are able to help this senior to return the tray and get back the deposit. Surely most Singaporeans are caring enough to spend a few minutes assisting these elderly right?

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The tray return programme is part of Hawker Centre 3.0 Committee’s plans to make hawker trade more productive and more appealing to the younger generation. We all love hawker food, don’t we? And most of us also know good hawker food may die off if we don’t do anything about it. So before we continue / start to complain about how the authorities are not helping to keep the hawker trade alive, let’s reflect on what we as individuals can do to preserve this trade. Not only short term, but also in the long run.

Just return the tray lah, for the sake of keeping that bowl of bak chor mee alive.