The National Environment Agency (NEA) has announced stronger enforcement actions against diners who fail to return used trays and crockery in public eating places such as hawker centres, coffee shops, and food courts from 1 June.
Currently, NEA and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) advise diners to clear their tables, and first-time offenders are issued written warnings while second-time offenders face a composition fine of S$300.
NEA stated that offending diners will be asked for their particulars, and first-time offenders will be issued a warning instead of an advisory, while subsequent offenders will face fines or court charges.
NEA and SFA aim to reinforce good habits and deter the minority of diners who repeatedly fail to return their used trays and crockery. They also want to ensure that the good efforts of the majority of diners who return their used trays and crockery are not marred by the inconsiderate behaviour of the minority.
According to a Singapore Management University survey published in April, 95% of diners returned their used trays and crockery “all the time.”
NEA also reported that the average tray and crockery return rate at hawker centres has increased from 65% in August 2021 to about 90% now, while the rate at coffee shops and food courts has remained around 90%.
NEA also plans to step up enforcement against littering by deploying remote surveillance cameras at “hotspots” from this month.
Between 2020 and 2022, NEA issued an average of 18,700 tickets for littering and high-rise littering, with the highest number of tickets given out last year (21,200).
First-time littering offenders will be fined S$300, while those prosecuted in court may receive a fine and a Corrective Work Order (CWO) to clean up public areas under supervision.
About 2,200 CWOs were issued from 2020 to 2022. NEA has introduced CWO sessions in Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar to increase awareness of the impact of littering, and these sessions will be expanded to the Farrer Park area from July 2023.
NEA said that it would continue with a “pragmatic” approach and avoid enforcement actions against “the less-abled, frail elderly and children, who are clearly unable to clear their tables.”