Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Mitigating Redundancies from Tray Return
Mr Darryl David: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether there are any mitigation plans to counter the possible effects of cleaner redundancies that may arise from the tray-return policy in public dining places.
1 As of 1 June 2021, diners at hawker centres are required to return their dirty trays and crockery, and dispose of litter after their meals. Enforcement against table littering has commenced at hawker centres from 1 September 2021, after an initial 3-month advisory period. This followed the Clean Tables Campaign that was launched in February 2021 to raise public hygiene standards at public dining places and encourage tray return.
2 The National Environment Agency, supported by the Singapore Food Agency, has been working with stakeholders, including operators, stallholders and the cleaning industry on a revised table-cleaning workflow at public dining places to ensure a smooth transition and help cleaners manage their workload better.
3 Clearing our dirty trays and crockery will not deprive cleaners of their jobs as they are still required to upkeep the general cleanliness and hygiene of dining places, sort the crockery, and wipe and sanitise the tables. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demands on cleaners, with the heightened requirements to ensure higher levels of public cleanliness and hygiene. Moving towards a self-service model where we return our dirty trays and crockery will therefore be a kinder gesture towards our ageing cleaning workforce, and will make it less laborious for them.
4 Under the revised table-cleaning workflow, a team of cleaners will focus on wiping and sanitising tables after diners have cleared their tables, which would enable faster turnover of tables during peak mealtimes. Another team of cleaners will man the designated tray and crockery return points to clear and sort the returned crockery promptly.
5 These revisions to the table-cleaning workflow will facilitate a more effective and efficient process to improve the overall cleanliness of public dining spaces, while providing cleaners and diners with a more hygienic and pleasant working and dining environment.