In Marília, Brazil, refuse is collected at least every other day, yet non-useful, non-returnable containers such as cans, plastic bottles and tires account for almost half of the container habitats found positive for the Aedes aegypti mosquito. A study was therefore conducted to investigate why these containers exist despite regular refuse collection and a high level of awareness of dengue prevention, and how the control program could most effectively respond. Differing community perceptions as to what constitutes refuse were found to lead people to store a variety of containers in their yard. Other dimensions of the problem include the presence of informal refuse collectors in search of saleable materials, and dumping of refuse in vacant lots and along roads. An intervention based on these data will involve the informal refuse collectors in implementation of a community-based recycling project.