Hawkers Say Up to 90 Percent of Customers Refuse to use Trays due to “Tray Deposit” Scheme


The “tray deposit” scheme was meant to encourage hawker centre customers to return their trays – and the utensils and food scraps on them – after their meals, in the name of keeping hawker centres clean.

Instead, hawkers at Marsiling Mall and Bukit Merah Central food centres say they observe that up to 90 percent of customers have since refused to use a tray all together!

And, their used utensils and food scraps are still left on the table for cleaners to clear.

The 2 hawker centres are the first 2 out of 25 hawker centres that will eventually adopt the tray return scheme and centralised dish-washing services.

Customers are charged $1 at Bukit Merah Central food centre, while patrons are charged 50 cents in Marsiling.

Many customers say that the tray deposit scheme is a hassle.

Said banker Felix Lim:

“Hawker food is meant to be ‘eat quick, eat cheap, then zhao already’. Now you want people to queue up to buy food, then queue up to return tray again? Siao ah. It’s a damn stupid idea.”

Pharmacist Megan Oh said:

“Last time at hawker centres, the stall owner will serve you the meal then clear the dishes for you. Now, you have to take the food yourself, then return the dishes yourself. So prices go up, but service standards drop. Does this make sense?

The tray deposit scheme is one of the recommendations by the Hawker Centre 3.0 Committee.

The aim of those initiatives is to reduce hawkers’ workload, boost productivity in the face of manpower challenges, and “encourage” customers to return their trays.

Another recommendation, the centralised dish-washing service, will see hawkers charged based on the amount of crockery they use.





  1. John wxh

    February 1, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    THEy are let off lightly because of their wealth & connections.
    Being rich & well connected sure has benefits.

  2. Terry

    February 1, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    With this deposit system for the tray and then refund on returned tray will definitely put me off in having this tray and I will just take the bowl of noodles or plate of rice and utensils to the table, finished my meal and then leave these on the table as I will not be able to returned the soiled utensils back to the collection station as I have always done with the free tray available.

    Please think thoroughly on your applied system which I think has been recommended by persons who are NOT regular patrons of hawker centre especially during the lunch breaks.

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