In some other cities in the U.S., residents pay a separate bill for trash collection, but receive recycling services free of charge as a way to boost recycling participation. This kind of system is referred to as "quantity-based user fees" (QBUFs); usually implemented in localities where residents pay for refuse collection based upon the amount of trash they generate.
User fees are difficult to institute in cities, like New York, where refuse and recycling is funded through general tax revenues. In such cities, residents don't pay directly for trash and recycling collection so therefore perceive of this as a "free" service provided by the city.
NYC's preponderance of multi-unit housing also creates obstacles to the implementation of a QBUF system. Unlike municipalities in which single- and two-family homes predominate, 60% of NYC's housing stock is multi-unit. In apartment buildings, it is generally impossible to enforce waste-related regulation at the tenant level, as waste is deposited, often through chutes, into a common area.
NYC encourages recycling by making it mandatory (which means residents and building managers are subject to fines for non-compliance), and by providing free recycling decals and other public education materials.
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