Starting from 1 June, diners at hawker centres will have to return their trays and clear their table litter under new regulations by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
This was said by NEA on Friday (14 May), citing the public health crisis that Singapore is facing and years of extensive educational efforts to change behaviour and mindsets of diners at public places, as a reason for the move.
Table litter refers to used tissues and wet wipes, straws, canned drinks, plastic bottles, and food remnants left behind after dining.
NEA said that there will be a three-month advisory period from 1 June 1 to 31 Aug, during which diners will be advised to follow the rules and no enforcement action will be taken.
Subsequently after that, enforcement will be taken against those who do not clean up after themselves at hawker centres.
First-time offenders will be given a written warning. Subsequent offenders may face composition or court fines, which can go up to $2,000 upon conviction.
The Singapore Food Agency will also work with NEA to roll out enforcement progressively at coffee shops and food courts in the fourth quarter of this year.
NEA’s deputy chief executive of public health and director-general of public health Chew Ming Fai said: “We’ve been talking about these clean tables since 2013, and there’s been a lot of education effort that has been put out over the years.”
One example is the Clean Tables Campaign launched in February this year to remind diners to step up the cleanliness of public dining places, such as not leaving food remnants behind after eating and clearing their dirty crockery.
Mr Chew said: “Following up from that exercise, we’ve seen a small uptick in terms of tray return rates from 33 to 35 per cent, but unfortunately I don’t think that is significant enough.”