Why doesn’t the City of Carmel pick up leaves from the curbside, the way some other communities do?

Decisions made regarding the disposal of trash and yard waste are made with a few factors in mind. The primary concern is the impact to the environment and the City’s infrastructure.

The issue of collecting leaves is one that impacts more than just the leaves that fall each autumn from our trees.

The issue of collecting leaves is one that impacts more than just the leaves that fall each autumn from our trees. The decision to bag leaves for pick-up vs. having residents rake their leaves into the street has an impact on our storm sewer system. For example, storm sewers can easily get clogged if leaves are blown over the openings or mixed with ice. This can cause flooding and other problems forcing other cities to deal with these unintended consequences.

Carmel currently contracts with Republic to remove yard waste, including a generous allowance of extra bags during key times of the season.

The costs associated with adding a fleet of new equipment and employees to handle the influx of leaves to pick is also something to consider. An analysis by the Carmel Street Department of Carmel vs. Noblesville (which does leaf pickup) shows that it would cost Carmel taxpayers an additional $3.1 million per year to begin collecting leaves along the curbside.

It should also be noted that under a system of street sweepers picking up leaves, it would be the responsibility of each homeowner to rake or blow their leaves to the curb. Experience from Noblesville and other cities indicate that many residents are not able to control their blowers and often times the leaves get spread across the streets – especially on windy days – causing potentially slippery conditions on streets and sidewalks, making it more of a challenge to pick up the leaves.

Authored by Laura Campbell, Kevin Rider, Jeff Worrell, Tim Hannon, Sue Finkam, Bruce Kimball, Miles Nelson, Anthony Green and Adam Aasen.