To help combat the growing trash problem around Mount Everest, a national cleanup campaign in Nepal has set a goal of collecting and recycling 200,000 pounds of trash in 2018. This effort comes after a declaration by the country’s tourism ministry in 2014, which stated that anyone who climbed the mountain had to return with an extra 18 pounds of waste.
To collect the trash, workers and yaks carry it by foot from several villages leading up to the mountain’s base camp. The trash is then transported all the way to Kathmandu, the nation’s capital, where it is recycled.
Local officials say that 24,000 pounds of waste have been collected so far, and several waste dumping sites and trash cans have been installed along the mountain’s trails.
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“Previously, trash dumping areas were made of plastic sheets, so yaks easily destroyed them,” said Nim Dorjee Sherpa, a municipal official. “We have now installed rubbish bins made of stone and zinc sheets.”
The challenge of hauling material away is so vast that even the bodies of climbers who died on the mountain are sometimes left in place.
“It is very difficult not because of logistical and technical reasons, but because of the law,” said Ang Dorjee Sherpa, the head of the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, which maintains the mountain. “We can’t cremate or bury the dead bodies without consent.”