Customers will soon have to pay a tray deposit at up to 25 existing hawker centres, in a bid to boost productivity and encourage customers to return their trays, according to media reports.
Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre and Bukit Merah Hawker Centre are the first two hawker centres to introduce the automated tray return system (ATRS). The two hawker centres have also launched centralised dishwashing (CDW) services.
Customers currently pay a tray deposit of $0.50 and $1, respectively, at these hawker centres when they buy their food, which is refunded when they return their trays at the ATRS. This allows cleaners to focus on cleaning the tables, allowing for a faster turnaround.
Used trays, crockery and cutlery are transported to a centralised dishwashing area, where they are cleaned in an industrial-scale automated dishwashing machine.
Hawkers are charged for the CDW services according to the amount of crockery and cutlery they use each day. To encourage hawkers to adopt the CDW services, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will pay for up to 70 per cent of operating costs for two years.
The ATRS and CDW services are part of the recommendations by the Hawker Centre 3.0 Committee, which aim to help reduce hawkers’ workload and overcome manpower challenges.