Since the beginning of this year, authorities in Tibet have taken multiple measures to remove the waste left by hikers on Mount Everest. From the 1950s onward, human activity in the Mount Everest area has led to the dumping of all kinds of rubbish, including food packages, bottles, tents, oxygen tanks and human faeces. According to the UNEP’s previous estimate, a few hundred tons of waste have been abandoned in the region.
Nyima Cering, Deputy Director of the Tibetan Sports Administration, explained that with the popularization of mountain climbing and tourism, the already fragile ecological system of the area is approaching its limit. An environmental protection squad has been set up by the administration with both Chinese and foreign volunteers, carrying down waste in areas around 6500 meters above sea level, as well as climbing with professional equipment to areas that stand between 6500 meters and the peak (8848m). After the waste is taken back to the base camp, it will be sorted into recyclables and non-recyclables to be disposed of by the local authority.
In order to deal with the excrement issue, eco-toilets have also been built to collect faeces in bags before they are removed. With newly invented deodorant and dehydrating agents, the excrement can be dried up to be carried down more easily.
Apart from the technical measures, the administration has also taken steps to mobilize civil society to take part in the activities to protect the mountain’s environment. In March 2018 the registration of the Himalaya Mountain Environmental Protection Foundation was officially approved, with funding coming from private companies and charitable organizations. Local farmers will also be compensated if they take part in the efforts to remove the trash.
Strict monitoring of climbing activities has also been adopted in order to establish a regulated system of governance. It is understood that the Tibetan Autonomous Region is studying and formulating the Mount Everest Climbing Garbage Disposal Management Method, on the basis of the already issued Tibet Autonomous Region Mountaineering Regulations, to refine the management of the parts of the mountain that are over 5200 meters above sea level. After the end of this year’s climbing season the Chinese side of Mount Everest will no longer be receiving climbers for the rest of the year, in order to carry out activities of environmental repair.
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