SINGAPORE: Coffee shops and food courts looking to install tray return facilities will soon be able to apply for funding to alleviate some of their costs.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) and Singapore Food Agency (SFA) announced on Friday (Apr 16) a scheme to defray 50 per cent of the costs of installing tray return facilities, such as stations, racks or trolleys, as well as the purchase of trays. It is capped at S$2,500 per premises.
Called the Clean Tables Support Scheme, the initiative will run from May 1 to Oct 31, said NEA and SFA in a media release.
The support is part of the Clean Tables Campaign, which has been under way since February this year. It aims to remind users and stakeholders of public dining places to keep the tables clean for the next diner.
“The average age of cleaners is 60 years old today. A more socially conscious, self-service concept where diners take care of their own crockery and trays is a more sustainable way forward to keep our public dining places clean and hygienic,” said the release.
“With every diner doing his/her part, this will also make the cleaners’ jobs easier, as they can then focus on their work to clean and sanitise tables, as well as sort and distribute trays and crockery to the stalls.”
NEA will also provide more trays and install more return racks at its hawker centres.
READ: Leaving behind trays, food debris at hawker centres could expose others to diseases: Health experts
To ensure sufficient tray return infrastructure, each cooked-food stallholder at hawker centres will be given 50 more new trays.
NEA also plans to install 75 more tray and used crockery return racks at hawker centres, on top of the existing 900.
Coffee shop and food court operators have “steadily pledged support” for the campaign since its February launch, said the release.
As part of outreach efforts, these establishments have also displayed posters and other signages to remind patrons to return their trays and keep the tables clean.
The release also said that NEA will work with stakeholders on a revised table-cleaning workflow to facilitate a more effective and efficient process of keeping tables clean.
This is “crucial” to the faster turnaround of tables during peak meal times and to improve overall cleanliness outcome.
“The cleaning industry is facing manpower challenges and the pool of cleaning staff is limited,” said Mr Tony Chooi, president of the Environmental Management Association of Singapore.
“The Clean Tables Campaign, which call on patrons to return their trays and used crockery, can greatly help alleviate manpower constraints. Cleaners can then be redeployed to focus on important cleaning tasks, such as sorting crockery and sanitising tables. There is no worry that the cleaning staff might lose their jobs.”