Saturday, September 29, 2012

The messy limit to tray returning

Sep 29, 2012

[Another excuse-making lazy Singaporean!]

LET'S get real ("Tray-return campaigns have worked before" by the Singapore Kindness Movement; Monday).

How do you return trays for "messy" meals such as chilli crab, bak kut teh and fish head curry?

[Riiiight! Lots of Hawker centre stalls sell Chilli Crab, and Fish Head Curry.]

There is no doubt that the tray-return campaign had worked and is successful in certain places like school cafetarias, army camps, McDonald's outlets and the foodcourt at Ikea.

But in all these establishments, the foods sold or catered are simple dishes like noodles and rice, or just finger food like burgers, chicken wings and french fries.

These are foods that do not generate a lot of waste like bones and gravy.

I do not want to sound pessimistic or negative. [Try harder! You're failing miserably!] But from my observation, the tray-return system is not so easily implementable in establishments where messy food is on the menu.

These items generate a lot of food waste, and woe betide the operators who want their customers to clear their soiled crockery and food waste after their sumptuous meals.

[Most of these stalls are either zichar stalls or restaurants. Yes. Maybe for these, the stall operators have an incentive and a vested interest in keeping their high-value (or higher value) customers happy. Or for operational and logistical efficiency, they could or should clean up after their customers? First of all, it is tray return. If nothing else leave your food waste (bones, bowls of leftover gravy, etc) within your tray. Return tray with everything on it. Second, maybe it's time to learn how to eat with a little more decorum and keep things neat instead of spraying your bones and gravy all over the place?]
The customers will either go to another outlet, or the restaurant floors will be covered with food waste and gravy.

For similar reasons, the campaign has not been successful in hawker centres.

[No. Not similar at all. So it would seem that all your arguments above are for non-hawker centres?]

There is a need to look into the prerequisites for a successful campaign this time round. It a waste of funds to relaunch it if no modification is made.

For the campaign to be successfully implemented, especially in hawker centres and foodcourts, the operators have to restrict the food items that can be sold in the establishments.

So, chilli crab, fish head curry, bak kut teh, cockles, clams and food that generate messy waste should be banned in hawker centres earmarked for the campaign. But it will not be easy to enforce a ban on the types of food that can be sold in existing hawker centres without attracting a backlash.

[No. No. No. You are solving the wrong problem. Messy, bone-spitting, gravy spraying, soup-spilling, excuse-making, lazy-farkers who do not reduce their mess or return their trays should not be allowed to eat at hawker centres.]

Hence, the relevant authorities should enforce it and the tray-return system in the new hawker centres that are being built over the next few years.

Soh Ah Yuen

[Stupid argument. Sets up a false premise, unrealistic assumptions and then concludes it cannot be done. As good as arguing that car park space is too small for buses and lorries and so parking spaces should be made larger.

So his argument literally is, I'm a messy eater! I love eating messy food! The messier the better! This new rule discriminates against lovers of messy food!

Stop making excuses.

Update: The letter below is written by a better person than me. Or he puts his point across in a non-confrontation (or at least less confrontational than me) manner. Yes, we cannot pretend to be "job-creators" when we are just being messy, inconsiderate slobs.]

Oct 20, 2012
Cleaners picking up trays is not the answer
I disagree with Benjy Kip, who wrote the letter Pay 10 Cents For A Cleaner To Pick Up Tray (Life!, Oct 13). Graciousness in the form of keeping tables clean for the next person should not deprive cleaners of their jobs.

They will still be needed to wipe dirty tables and take soiled dishes to the washing area. Creating messy tables to ensure jobs for unskilled people is a step backwards in building a gracious society.

Let us be more creative in solving this ungracious and unhygienic practice at hawker centres instead of resisting change to anti-social habits. Employing more cleaners is not the answer.

Just visit any hawker centre during peak hours and on Sunday mornings, and you will notice that the cleaners cannot keep pace with the fast turnover of customers.

Lim Jit Chaing

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