Over the next few years, nearly 25 hawker centers managed by the National Environment Agency in Singapore will start charging for food trays.
Marsiling Mall Hawker Centre and Bukit Merah Hawker Centre are the first two hawker centers to introduce the automated tray return system (ATRS).
The latest move comes as more and more hawker centers try to boost productivity and encourage customers to return their trays.
Customers will have to pay a tray deposit of $0.50 and $1, respectively, at these hawker centers when they buy their food, which will be refunded when they return their trays at the ATRS.
Used trays, crockery, and cutlery are moved to a centralized dishwashing area, where they are cleaned in an industrial-scale automated dishwashing machine.
The stall owners are charged for the amount of crockery and cutlery they need each day. To help them with the transition to a centralized dishwashing system, up to 70 percent of the operating costs will be borne by National Environment Agency for the first two years.