Photo credit: REAGAN TAN

Tray returns and table litter clearing will be mandatory from June

There will be a three-month advisory period from June 1 to Aug 31 to help diners adjust.

Jeevana Kalaithasan

Obsessed with chocolate, TikTok and baking.

Published: 14 May 2021, 2:11 PM

Diners are required to return their trays and clear their table litter from Jun 1, the National Environment Agency (NEA) announced. 

Table litter includes used tissues and wet wipes, straws, canned drinks, plastic bottles and food remnants left behind after dining.

To help diners adjust, there will be an advisory period from June 1 to Aug 31 where diners will be advised to follow the rules and no enforcement action will be taken.

Enforcement will be taken against those who do not comply with this new rule from Sept 1. 

First-time offenders will be given a written warning. Subsequent offenders may face composition or court fines, which can go up to $2,000 for the first conviction.


In the fourth quarter of this year, the rule will be enforced progressively at coffee shops and food courts. PHOTO CREDIT: NEA


NEA said that the ongoing pandemic has influenced this move to take place. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for all of us to maintain high public hygiene and cleanliness standards. To encourage diners to keep the tables clean at public dining places, extensive educational efforts have been conducted over the years,” said NEA. 

Although the enforcement is new, the initiative is not. Diners have been cleaning their own tables since 2013.  

The Clean Tables Campaign launched in February to remind diners to step up the cleanliness in public dining places, such as not leaving food remnants behind after eating and clearing their dirty crockery. However, those who don’t clean their tables haven’t been facing any consequence, up till now.

To complement enforcement, NEA will also be setting up more tray return infrastructure across the hawker centres.

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