One of the things we appreciate most about Madrid is the human scale of everyday living. For instance, the typical kitchen trash container is 10 liters, which is about 20% the size of the normal 13-gallon bin in the US.
This is a perfectly comfortable and useful size for Madrid because (at least in Centro) trash is collected every night! Each building has a smallish dedicated trash bin that a hired worker pulls out onto the sidewalk each night between 6 and 8, the trash truck rolls through between 1 and 2 am, and the bins are stored away by 7 or so the next morning.
* Interestingly, the individuals who move the trash bins appear to be on specific routes. In our neighborhood, someone rides up on a silent electric motorbike, pulls out a ring of several dozen building keys, and drags the bin in and out for us — twice a day, every day. Since we have been here, the only nights they took a holiday were Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.
Also helping reduce waste volumes is the city’s robust recycling program. Every few blocks throughout Centro are large recycling bins where you can separate glass from plastic from cardboard and paper. There are some on our way to the supermarket (which we visit nearly daily due to its location less than 200 meters from the flat), so it’s a breeze to drop off a bag or two of recyclables and then reuse the plastic bags we just emptied to cart groceries home.
The streets are also washed every so often. Water trucks slowly crawl along while a worker or two point hoses downhill, scouring away dust, small trash, and the inevitable dog waste (Madrid rivals Paris in that respect).