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Good habit of returning food trays should start from early age

Good habit of returning food trays should start from early age
A cleaner clearing tables at Kou Fu food court at HDB hub where Tray Return Stations are set up shortly after launching National Environment Agency's (NEA) The Tray Return Partnership. TODAY file photo

Good habit of returning food trays should start from early age

I refer to recent reports on food centres getting diners to return food trays and discouraging people from “reserving” seats at such eating places with items such as tissue-paper packets.

These are not issues you face in developed countries like Australia and Japan, so I hope that our authorities, including the National Environment Agency, can offer more effective solutions.

I would like to suggest that we start getting people to acquire the habit of returning trays from a young age.

As part of the CIP (Community Involvement Programme) by schools, students who go on outings to hawker centres to have their meals should be reminded to return trays and not to reserve seats, so that they learn such basic etiquette.

Cleaners at food centres should not clear the trays before the patrons leave the table, to allow the patrons to do it themselves. Where possible, they should thank the patrons for returning trays, instead of reprimanding them for doing so.

Patrons or cleaners who find items such as packets of tissue paper or umbrellas left on seats or tables should have the right to remove them, to discourage seat reservation.

The Government may invite the public to send proposals for solutions, and to arrange for a committee to meet interested members of the public to brainstorm solutions. I will like to take part if there is one.

We all need to do our part to make tables and seats more readily available at crowded eating places.