Existing houses and apartments do not usually provide satisfactory storage for the volume and type of wastes now being produced. The difficulties in disposing of rubbish are: increasing shortage of labour while public demands for a better service grow more exacting; adapting machines and methods to suit the growing volume of light but bulky waste; the pressing problem of where to dump treated or untreated refuse as existing tips are filled. The passing years have seen a mounting volume of 'bulky waste' – such items as old washing machines, refrigerators, cars and other objects that will not fit into the standard dustbin and which are often dumped about the countryside because there are no lawful ways of getting rid of them.
Furthermore, in many countries it is difficult to recruit adequate staff for the collection of refuse, and increasing traffic congestion creates difficulties and delays in transport. Inadequate storage and collection arrangements can create health and safety hazards and neighbourhood blight. On-site incinerators, which can substantially reduce refuse volume, can also cause an unacceptable degree of air pollution unless they are properly designed and operated. Kitchen grinders help to reduce the volume of putrescible refuse to be collected, but still leave up to 85% or more of the total volume to be collected, treated, and disposed of.
Rubbish disposal ranks as one of the affluent society's major headaches. The USA spends more than $3000 million a year on storing, collecting and disposing of solid wastes, which are produced at a rate equivalent to 1.6 kgs every day for each one of the 200 million American citizens. French and Japanese consumers produce about 0.8kg of garbage per day, and (west) Germans produce just over 1kg each per day. In England and Wales (with about 48 million inhabitants) local authorities collect about 14 million tonnes of house and trade refuse annually, at a cost of over £60 million.
Results from an annual survey of Waste Collection Authorities, Waste Disposal Authorities and Unitary Authorities show that over 90 per cent of waste handled by local authorities in England and Wales in 1996/7 arose from households and that, on average, each household produces almost 24 kg of waste per week. The survey results also show that landfill continues to be the most widely used method of disposal, accounting for around 84 per cent of municipal wastes in 1996/7.