NEA Will Put Up More Tray Return Racks In Response To Viral Photos From Mar 2021

Photos Of Messy Tray Return Station In Boon Lay Spark Concerns

Since the resumption of dine-ins from 21 Jun, returning trays and crockery has become mandatory.

However, as many adjust to the change, concerns over whether our hawker centres are adequately equipped for the new regulation have surfaced.

On 26 Jun, netizen Ms Lim shared photos of a messy tray return area in Boon Lay taken in Mar 2021.


She questions whether the relevant parties have performed their due diligence in keeping hawker centres clean.

In response, the National Environmental Agency (NEA) seeks the public’s patience as cleaners adjust to their new workflow.

Netizens rattled by messy tray return area in Boon Lay

On 25 Jun, a photo of cluttered trays at Queen’s Street made rounds on social media, raising doubts about the viability of mandatory tray return.

NEA has since clarified that the misleading photo was, in fact, from 5 years ago.

Messy Tray Return Area Sparks Criticism Of New Rules, NEA Says Photo’s From 2016

However, more recent photos of a chaotic tray return area in Boon Lay have sparked fresh concerns.

According to Ms Lim who took the photos in Mar 2021, tray return racks and neighbouring areas were overflowing with used crockery.

As such, she questions if relevant contractors, upon receiving maintenance fees from stallholders, have hired enough cleaners.

Whether the cleaners have undergone sufficient training or have access to enough cleaning supplies also remains uncertain.

Moreover, she’s raised concerns over NEA’s supervising role in ensuring that contractors fulfil the above obligations.

Therefore, Ms Lim finds it a shared responsibility among all parties to keep hawker centres clean.

Situation reportedly better in Jun 2021

As the photos Ms Lim referred to were from over 3 months ago, the situation at Boon Lay Place Food Village has reportedly improved.

Having paid a visit to the hawker centre on Sunday (27 Jun), reporters from 8World News sighted a rather tidy tray return area.


Apparently, the hygiene standard was indeed worrying back in Mar and Apr 2021 when there was a shortage of cleaners while more were allowed to dine.

However, since the resumption of 2-pax dine-ins, tray return areas at the food centre have been well-kept.

NEA will put up more racks

Addressing Ms Lim’s feedback on Sunday (27 Jun), NEA shared an updated photo of the tray return rack at Boon Lay Place Food Village.


Acknowledging instances where the return stations fill up quickly, it seeks public patience in allowing cleaners more time to adjust to their new workflow.


NEA added they are working closely with relevant parties to address the issue. They will also be adding more tray return racks to the hawker centres.

Meanwhile, they advised diners to look for alternative return stations if the nearest one is full.

Let’s all do our part

Understandably, making tray returns mandatory with a composition fine requires some time to adjust to.

This isn’t only applicable to diners but to all stakeholders alike.

However, we should always keep in mind the shared end goal — to make dining at our hawker centres a more enjoyable experience for all.

Have news you must share? Get in touch with us via email at

Featured image adapted from Facebook and Facebook.

Drop us your email so you won't miss the latest news.

  • More From Author