4,500 Diners Reminded to Return Their Trays on First Day of Compulsory Tray Return in Hawker Centres


Welcome back to hawker centres! Meet your favourite roasted pork, Hainanese pork chop, laksa, and fines when you don’t clear your own tables!

Yep, yessterday (21 Jun) was both the first day to dine in and the first day of mandatory tray-returning.

4,500 Diners Reminded to Return Their Trays on First Day of Compulsory Tray Return in Hawker Centres

According to a survey by The Straits Times, most visitors to two hawker centres have been observed to return their trays unprompted, keenly aware of the new rules or simply armed with a healthy sense of civic-mindedness.

However, according to Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor, about 4,500 diners have been advised to return their trays by officers.

Fortunately, no further actions have been taken as part of the National Environment Agency (NEA)’s policy, where no penalties will be issued until 31 August in order to help diners adjust to the new rules.

After that date, however, first-time offenders will be issued a written warning. A repeated offense would lead to S$300 in fines, and further offenses would result in court fines up to S$2,000 at the first instance.

The new policy is apparently made necessary because some diners persist in not returning their trays even though public education has long been underscoring a dire need to do so. 


Yeah, I still remember my primary school Chinese oral exams. You can’t score if you don’t point out some people in the pictures aren’t considerate enough to return their trays. Maybe instead of fines, we should retroactively deduct offenders’ PSLE scores.

Anyway, moving on: the COVID-19 crisis has also highlighted the need for rigorous hygiene practices in our daily lives, wherever we are.

Most diners interviewed expressed awareness that tray returns are now compulsory. Mr Tan Toh Kian, 59, suggested “making [tray returns] compulsory is the only way to get people to adopt this habit.” 

However, Ms Rachel Cheng, 26, believed that fines “seem a bit heavy-handed”, even though tray returns are “a good social norm to cultivate”.

There is also an environmental reason for tray returns: according to observations by some, relying on cleaners to clear plates sometimes means leaving used crockery on tables for a long time, attracting birds and animals that may carry diseases.

And now that you’ve read this article, there’s no excuse for not clearing your trays. But hey, at least they haven’t made people wash their plates yet. 

Feature Image: kandl stock / Shutterstock.com

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