Some day, he would like to have students and retirees stationed at food courts to encourage fellow customers to return their trays.
While some may see this as an attempt to “catch” people who do not return their trays after meals, it is meant more as a form of “gentle persuasion”, said Dr William Wan, General-Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement.
Speaking three days after it kicked off a tray-return programme at the Kopitiam food court at JCube, Dr Wan said the movement is in talks with several fast-food operators about their coming on board.
Asked whether he believed Singaporeans would eventually make returning trays a national habit, Dr Wan said: “I think there is political will in the sense that our ministers are now speaking up about it. I think that now it’s a matter of implementation.”
At JCube’s Kopitiam, which has four tray collection points, patrons appeared to be warming up to the idea.
Over two hours at lunchtime yesterday, this reporter observed 27 patrons returning their trays. However, many others did not.
“I see other people not doing the same (returning their trays). Besides, there are cleaners around,” said Ms Agatha C, a 19-year-old student.
Another patron, Madam Mary T, felt returning trays alone would not make the food court a cleaner place for others.
“Even if I return the tray, the table will still be dirty, because I spill food. So (I would) rather let the cleaners clean the tray and table all at once,” said the 50-year-old housewife.
Cleaners TODAY spoke to said that they have seen more patrons, such as office workers during the weekday lunch hours, returning their trays recently.
Of the five patrons who returned their trays, two said they did so as their tables were too small and they did not see any cleaners around.
“I cultivated this habit when I stayed in England for one-and-a-half years. I saw the people being responsible (about returning trays),” said admin executive Lee D M, 35, adding that she has been encouraging her friends to do the same for years.
Another patron, beautician Peggy Lin, 40, said: “As a parent, I should set a good example to my children. This habit of (returning trays) should be started earlier and cultivated.”