Most return trays as it's socially responsible act, not to avoid fine
According to the fifth annual Public Cleanliness Satisfaction Survey 2022 conducted by SMU – which surveyed 2,020 Singapore residents on their perceptions of cleanliness in the nation from July to October 2022 amid the Covid 19 pandemic – Singaporeans are taking more personal responsibility for keeping food spaces clean, with 95 per cent of all respondents returning their trays and crockery every time they ate at a coffee shop or hawker centre in 2022. While this behavioural change can be partly explained by the fine, the survey also found deeper shifts in attitudes towards personal responsibility underfoot, with 78.4 per cent of respondents claiming that they cleared their tables because it was the socially responsible thing to do, rather than because they were trying to avoid being fined. SMU Dean of Students and Professor of Sociology (Practice) Paulin Straughan, co-lead of the study, said the findings regarding food spaces were exciting from a sociological perspective, because they pointed towards norms of a greater personal responsibility for keeping coffee shops and hawker centres clean. Acknowledging that personal responsibility for community spaces is a spectrum, Prof Straughan said the study showed there can now be a public conversation on how much people can help to keep clean places they use.