Waste collection methods vary widely among different countries and regions. Domestic waste collection services are often provided by local government authorities, or by private companies in the industry. Some areas, especially those in less developed countries, do not have a formal waste-collection system. Examples of waste handling systems include:
In Australia, curbside collection is the method of disposal of waste. Every urban domestic household is provided with three bins: one for recyclables, another for general waste and another for garden materials - this bin is provided by the municipality if requested. Also, many households have compost bins; but this is not provided by the municipality. To encourage recycling, municipalities provide large recycle bins, which are larger than general waste bins. Municipal, commercial and industrial, construction and demolition waste is dumped at landfills and some is recycled. Household waste is segregated: recyclables sorted and made into new products, and general waste is dumped in landfill areas. According to the ABS, the recycling rate is high and is 'increasing, with 99% of households reporting that they had recycled or reused some of their waste within the past year (2003 survey), up from 85% in 1992'. This suggests that Australians are in favour of reduced or no landfilling and the recycling of waste. Of the total waste produced in 2002–03, '30% of municipal waste, 45% of commercial and industrial waste and 57% of construction and demolition waste' was recycled. Energy is produced from waste as well: some landfill gas is captured for fuel or electricity generation. Households and industries are not charged for the volume of waste they produce.
In Europe and a few other places around the world, a few communities use a proprietary collection system known as Envac, which conveys refuse via underground conduits using a vacuum system. Other vacuum-based solutions include the MetroTaifun single-line and ring-line systems.
In Canadian urban centres curbside collection is the most common method of disposal, whereby the city collects waste and/or recyclables and/or organics on a scheduled basis. In rural areas people often dispose of their waste by hauling it to a transfer station. Waste collected is then transported to a regional landfill.
In Taipei, the city government charges its households and industries for the volume of rubbish they produce. Waste will only be collected by the city council if waste is disposed in government issued rubbish bags. This policy has successfully reduced the amount of waste the city produces and increased the recycling rate.
In Israel, the Arrow Ecology company has developed the ArrowBio system, which takes trash directly from collection trucks and separates organic and inorganic materials through gravitational settling, screening, and hydro-mechanical shredding. The system is capable of sorting huge volumes of solid waste, salvaging recyclables, and turning the rest into biogas and rich agricultural compost. The system is used in California, Australia, Greece, Mexico, the United Kingdom and in Israel. For example, an ArrowBio plant that has been operational at the Hiriya landfill site since December 2003 serves the Tel Aviv area, and processes up to 150 tons of garbage a day.
Traditionally the waste management industry has been slow to adopt new technologies such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, GPS and integrated software packages which enable better quality data to be collected without the use of estimation or manual data entry.
Technologies like RFID tags are now being used to collect data on presentation rates for curb-side pick-ups which is useful when examining the usage of recycling bins or similar.
Benefits of GPS tracking is particularly evident when considering the efficiency of ad hoc pick-ups (like skip bins or dumpsters) where the collection is done on a consumer request basis.
Integrated software packages are useful in aggregating this data for use in optimisation of operations for waste collection operations.
Rear vision cameras are commonly used for OH&S reasons and video recording devices are becoming more widely used, particularly concerning residential services and contaminations of the waste stream.
Waste management concepts
There are a number of concepts about waste management which vary in their usage between countries or regions. Some of the most general, widely used concepts include:
Diagram of the waste hierarchy.
Waste hierarchy - The waste hierarchy refers to the "3 Rs" reduce, reuse and recycle, which classify waste management strategies according to their desirability in terms of waste minimization. The waste hierarchy remains the cornerstone of most waste minimization strategies. The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.
Extended producer responsibility - Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy designed to promote the integration of all costs associated with products throughout their life cycle (including end-of-life disposal costs) into the market price of the product. Extended producer responsibility is meant to impose accountability over the entire lifecycle of products and packaging introduced to the market. This means that firms which manufacture, import and/or sell products are required to be responsible for the products after their useful life as well as during manufacture.
Polluter pays principle - the Polluter Pays Principle is a principle where the polluting party pays for the impact caused to the environment. With respect to waste management, this generally refers to the requirement for a waste generator to pay for appropriate disposal of the waste.
Education and awareness in the area of waste and waste management is increasingly important from a global perspective of resource management. The Talloires Declaration is a declaration for sustainability concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of environmental pollution and degradation, and the depletion of natural resources. Local, regional, and global air pollution; accumulation and distribution of toxic wastes; destruction and depletion of forests, soil, and water; depletion of the ozone layer and emission of "green house" gases threaten the survival of humans and thousands of other living species, the integrity of the earth and its biodiversity, the security of nations, and the heritage of future generations. Several universities have implemented the Talloires Declaration by establishing environmental management and waste management programs, e.g. the waste management university project. University and vocational education are promoted by various organizations, e.g. WAMITAB and Chartered Institution of Wastes Management. Many supermarkets encourage customers to use their reverse vending machines to deposit used purchased containers and receive a refund from the recycling fees. Brands that manufacture such machines include Tomra and Envipco.