Are Restaurants in Singapore Changing Plates too often?

Eco Friendly restaurants

When I was having dinner at a Chinese restaurant two weeks back, I was rather disturbed by the staffs who constantly changed my plates even though I told them it’s all right to leave it. It’s fine to change my plates when they are dirty and almost filled, but it is entirely a different matter when the plate is hardly touched and they insist on changing it.

Honestly, I’m not the biggest environmental-conscious person around. But when you hang out with Miss Earth Singapore, it’s really impossible not to be influence by her. Along the way, I started to think about some of our actions that have an impact on the environment.

How often should we change our plates during the course of dinner? And what can we do more to support the Eco friendly restaurants?

In the Singapore food scene, buffet restaurants are among the biggest culprits for the high usage of tableware since there are so many different type of food to choose from.

“Our hotel F&B policy for buffet is to clear the plate when the guest is done eating and gets up for his next course. So as many times as a person gets up and leaves dirty plates, they will be changed.” Miss Camilla Chiam (Director of Public Relations) from The Regent Singapore explained to me.

Buffet at Melt the world Cafe

The root of all problems is expectation.

We expect to use more plates, since there are so many items in a buffet. We expect that the staff will clean up our plates once we are done with them. We have to agree that for buffets there’s nothing much the restaurants can do since it’s pretty clear cut that the staff will usually change the plates so long the guest move on to the next course.

So on our part, we should try to reuse and ask the staff not to remove the plates. I mean, unless the plates are really dirty and will affect the taste of the next course, I think that it’s all right to reuse and bring your plate to the buffet counter for your second round. When my partner and I were at Melt the world cafe for the buffet dinner, we tried our best to reuse the plates unless there’s gravy on it. Obviously you don’t use a soup bowl for desserts, but for everything else, please reuse your plates!

Other than buffets, Chinese and Fine Dining restaurants in particular, tend to change the plates more regularly as there is a certain expectation from the different clientele.

Taste Paradise Singapore

When asked about the plates changing policy, Miss Cynthia Yee (Manager of Marketing & Communications) from the Paradise group of restaurants replied: “the general rule of thumb for the staffs across board are to change the plates when it’s more than 40% filled. For Taste Paradise, staffs are required to change plates for every course or whenever sauces are present on the plates before the next course is served.” Likewise for Cherry Garden Chinese restaurant, the staffs are told to change the side plates after each course of the menu.

Fortunately, the good people in the Singapore Food & Beverage industry are doing their part to help the environment. Over at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, Miss Kelly Tan (Director of Communications) told me that a ‘Go Green’ campaign is in place by placing tags in the guestrooms, to encourage guests to reuse their towels and bed linens.

For the Paradise group of restaurants, certain areas of the restaurants will be closed and lights and area air conditioning will be turned off to conserve energy during off peak hours. In addition to that, dishwasher will not be used until it’s at least 80% filled to save water.

I’m not sure if all restaurants do this, but the organic waste from The Regent Singapore’s banquets and functions are actually sent to a company where the waste is converted to methane gas for the company to run on. The Hotel F&B staff are also trained to wash vegetables and fruits in one section of the kitchen and not with running water, which makes perfect sense.

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When dining out, I will always request the waiter not to change my plates unless necessary. Ultimately, it is small things like these that can potentially make a difference.

Earth Hour only happens once a year, but if you do your part by changing plates only when necessary, we can contribute so much more to the environment!

What do you think about the plates changing policy in restaurants, and do you agree that we should try to minimize the changing of plates? Please feel free to comment and share with the rest how we can encourage more places to go green and become eco-conscious restaurants.

// This post about Eco-friendly restaurants is inspired by dweam.