Does anyone know if waste collection is provided by the city and paid for by local taxes or whether it is privatised ?
From July 2013, each municipality is obliged to provide the waste collection to everyone. There is a special tax, of two different values depending on whether the household declare to segregate the waste or not, whose value depends on the municipality, but it's generally about 20 PLN (in big cities it's higher, but the waste is collected more frequently, in rural areas it's often for example once a month, in cities - once a week).
In my town it's done so that the tax is 8 PLN for a month for a person if the waste is segregated (into two fractions - waste which can be recycled and those which cannot) and 13 PLN if it's not segregated. The waste which can be recycled is collected every month, the waste which cannot (or all the waste if someone doesn't want to segregate it and pays the higher tax) - every two weeks. Apart from multi-family houses, from which the recyclable waste is taken every two weeks and non-recyclable every week, but then it's the problem of those who manage the house, not the dwellers.
In the past it was so that everybody had to organize the trash collection on their own. It was possible to sign a contract either with a private company, or with the city to receive the waste with a constant frequency, but it was also possible to have no contract and call them when you have full bins. The problem was that many people either burned the waste in stoves for heating in winter, which resulted in air pollution (this is probably the main reason of Cracow's smog), or threw it out into forests, roadside ditches etc. Unfortunately, there are still some stubborn and stupid people who still do it...
Another issue is collection of sewage from places where there is no sewage system. In this case nothing was changed and it's still like it was with the waste previously. Still many houses have these vessels for sewage with leakages so that there is no need to collect the content so often or they are pumping the sewage to roadside pitches, rivers, or even to unused wells.