From 1 June, It’s Compulsory to Return Trays & From 1 Sept, You Could Be Fined Up to $2,000 for Not Returning Trays

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For ages, patrons have decried the practice of returning trays with utmost gusto.

“Why should we have to return the trays? We’re customers.”

“By returning the trays we’ll just be starving cleaners of jobs!”

“Say no to tray-returning and yes to more cai png!”

Yeah, that’s the rough gist of the current situation.

But like a wise old man once said; things change. 

And it seems that like it or not, customers would soon have to practice the art of tray-return themselves…

Or risk a rather hefty fine.

From 1 June, It’s Compulsory to Return Trays

According to The Straits Timesthe National Environment Agency (NEA) has released a truth bomb:

From 1 June 2021 onwards, all diners will have to return their trays.

They will also have to get rid of all table litter, which include used tissue, wet wipes, straws and plastic bottles.

Suffice to say; the revelation is not one that fussy diners would take especially well to.

Thankfully, the NEA will not be pulling out all the big guns from the start.

Recognising a possible case of inertia, they will be introducing a three-month advisory period from 1 June to 31 August, wherein diners will not face any enforcement actions for failure to comply with the new rule.

From 1 Sept, You Could Be Fined Up to $2,000 for Not Returning Trays

Once 31 August is over, however, the NEA will be showing its ‘true colours’.

Apparently, first-time offenders will be issued a written warning, with repeat offenders potentially facing composition or court fines.


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First convictions could reach as high as $2,000.

Enforcement will reportedly be introduced on a progressive scale.

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.”

Despite the efforts, however, returns have not been significant enough to warrant continued ‘voluntary returning of trays’.

And so, authorities probably had no other choice but to kickstart such a law-fuelled initiative. As they say: “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

In this case, the rod would refer to the law, and the child indicative of consumers who steadfastly refuse to return their trays.

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