Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether the tray return initiative for hawker centres started in 2012 has been implemented for all NEA-managed hawker centres; (b) if so, what is the total cost of the initiative; (c) whether and how the initiative has been assessed for its success; (d) whether the initiative has reduced the number of cleaners needed; and (e) how is the tray return system integrated with the food waste recycling trials at the two hawker centres undergoing these trials
Mr Masagos Zulkifli B M M: Tray-return was introduced by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to hawker centres in 2012 and tray-return facilities have been progressively implemented in all hawker centres since July 2015 at an average cost of about $11,000 per hawker centre.
The tray-return rates at our hawker centres vary from centre to centre, with the highest tray-return rates at Tiong Bahru Market and Block 137 Tampines Street 11. However, we can and should do better in achieving higher tray-return rates. The NEA is working with the Public Hygiene Council and the Singapore Kindness Movement to raise awareness of the tray-return initiative, for example by garnering support from schools, community organisations and corporations, including food court and fast food operators under the Tray-Return Partnership. We are also looking at incorporating tray-return stations that are more visible, prominent and accessible. Through these efforts, we hope to co-develop solutions to make it easier for everyone to return their trays and make the dining experience at hawker centres a more pleasant one for all.
At Ang Mo Kio Block 628 Market and Tiong Bahru Market where on-site food waste recycling projects are ongoing, food waste is segregated by cleaners when crockery is returned at the tray-return stations and when they collect the crockery during table-cleaning. The segregated food waste is then brought to the bin centre for recycling. NEA and the appointed food waste recycling companies have conducted training sessions with the cleaners at both centres on how to segregate food waste at the tray-return stations and during table-cleaning.
Tray-return will improve the overall level of cleanliness and hygiene in hawker centres by minimising the amount of food scraps left on the tables. It will also help the cleaners increase their work efficiency and will, over time, ease the manpower constraints faced by the cleaning sector. My Ministry will continue with our efforts to educate and raise awareness of tray-return to build this culture. Ultimately, cleaning up after ourselves is not just about raising productivity or ensuring better hygiene and cleanliness but simply a reflection of our social graciousness and consideration for others. I hope that all of us can continue to play our part in returning our trays not just in hawker centres but in other food outlets as well.