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Public Hygiene Council says Singaporeans still not taking initiative to return trays

Singaporeans still fare poorly when it comes to returning their trays after a meal at food courts and hawker centres, according to the Public Hygiene Council. Council chairman Edward D’Silva rated tray return a mere four out of ten.

In an informal assessment for The Straits Times, Mr D’Silva gave scores to various aspects of hygiene in Singapore, from tray return to toilet cleanliness. Out of all categories surveyed, tray return fared the worst.

Personal hygiene and toilet cleanliness had the highest ratings of seven out of ten. Ownership and cleaning of dirty areas by stakeholders and throwing litter into rubbish bins both scored six out of ten.

Mr D’Silva noted that leaving trays with leftover food on tables attracts birds, especially in non-air conditioned areas. This could potentially cause diseases to be spread.

Despite a campaign that was set up by the Public Hygiene Council in 2013 encouraging people to return their trays, many Singaporeans still do not actively do so.

Director of operations at Kopitiam Investment Mr Yip Keng Soon noted that some diners leave their trays on the table as they have the misconception that clearing would put cleaners out of their work.

Conversely, Mr Yip stated that clearing one’s own tray would actually be making cleaners’ jobs easier, especially for those who are older.

The Public Hygiene Council, in collaboration with the Singapore Kindness Movement and the National Environment Agency, held its annual Operation We Clean Up on 8 May, where Ministers and Members of Parliament and residents from their respective wards took to the public areas and cleared up litter.

A total of 24 corporate partners and non-governmental organisations participated in Operation We Clean Up, which covered 190 locations, up from 133 last year. The 11,000 participants are reported to have collected more than 7,200 kg of litter during the event.

Several constituencies also gave their cleaners a day off on 8 May, while some other constituencies invited their team of cleaners for a dinner event.

Still, Mr D’Silva called for more to be done to upkeep the cleanliness of Singapore, and hoped for campaigns and movements to gain greater traction.