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Nepal Conducts Month-Long Cleaning Campaign to Convert Mount Everest Trash into Treasure

More than 50 people have been involved in Kathmandu-based Blue Waste to Value since 2017, which is a social enterprise dedicated to creating value from waste

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Workers from a recycling company load garbage collected and brought from Mount Everest, in Kathmandu, Nepal, June 5, 2019. VOA

In a bid to save Mount Everest from trash, Nepal conducted a month-long cleaning campaign by collecting over 10,000 kg of rubbish from the region.

The historical mega clean-up campaign coordinated by government and non-government agencies by mobilizing a dedicated Sherpa team from the base camp to four higher camps, not only collected waste but also removed four dead bodies from the roof of the world, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Instead of sending those solid waste to dump in the landfill site near Kathmandy, the items were segregated, processed and recycled as raw materials for various products.

“We segregated the collected materials in different categories like plastic, glass, iron, aluminium and textile. Among 10 tonness of waste received, two tonnes have been recycled while the remaining eight were soil mixed with wrappers and semi-burned items, which could not be recycled,” Nabin Bikash Maharjan, the head of Blue Waste to Value, told Xinhua.

mount everest, nepal
FILE – Mountaineers walk near Camp One of Mount Everest, April 29, 2018, as they prepare to ascend on the south face from Nepal. VOA

More than 50 people have been involved in Kathmandu-based Blue Waste to Value since 2017, which is a social enterprise dedicated to creating value from waste. Besides recycling the waste of the mountain, Maharjan’s team is also working with municipalities, hospitals, hotels and different offices to maximize value from waste by recycling, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and by creating green jobs.

To make the Everest cleanup campaign more effective, the company suggested authorities to set up an initial processing unit in the mountain area itself, so that waste can be segregated immediately and easily managed. Though the company does not recycle the materials itself, it collaborates with another firm called Moware Designs to create up-cycled glass bottle products and to sell them online.

Ujen Wangmo Lepcha from Moware Designs shared that the unique, colourful and artistic glass products are a trend recently for home, offices, restaurants and hotels. They are used as decorative items as a flower vase, candle cover, plates, travel cups, regular drinking glasses or as an accessory.

“Basically these waste products have no value in the market, so we are trying to add value and trying to reduce the waste from landfill. The products are environment-friendly and full of art,” Lepcha told Xinhua.

mount everest, nepal
Since 2008, the company has brought down seven bodies, some dating back to a British expedition in the 1970s. Pixabay

The young entrepreneur said that these products, which range from 350 Nepalese rupees to 2,000 Nepalese rupees ($3 to $18), are bacteria free as they are sterilized. The same glass items have also been a means of livelihood for many local women who shape the trash into trendy designs.

According to Nepal’s regulation, every foreigner needs to pay $11,000 as royalty while a Nepali climber has to pay $710 to scale the 8,848-meter-tall mountain.

ALSO READ: Uttarakhand Plans to Ban Single-Use Plastics in Government Offices; Becomes Third State to Enforce Ban on Plastic

Besides, the government collects garbage deposits from the climbers with a provision of refund after they bring back at least 8 kg of garbage. High altitude guides claimed that piles of trash are still found in the mountain with an adverse impact on health and the environment.

The Nepal Mountaineering Association said the government should come up with a new policy to have a separate fund, which can be used to continue the cleanliness campaign to make the mountaineering industry sustainable. (IANS)

Next Story

NASA Satellite Reveals More Plants are Growing Around Everest

According to the researchers, snow falls and melts here seasonally, and they don't know what impact changing subnival vegetation will have on this aspect of the water cycle - which is vital because this region (known as 'Asia's water towers') feeds the ten largest rivers in Asia

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Mount Everest
FILE - Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, is seen in this aerial view March 25, 2008. VOA

Researchers have found that plant life is growing and expanding around Mount Everest and across the Himalayan region as the area continues to experience the consequences of global warming.

According to the study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, the research team from University of Exeter in UK, used satellite data to measure the extent of subnival vegetation – plants growing between the treeline and snowline – in this vast area.

Little is known about these remote, hard-to-reach ecosystems, made up of short-stature plants (predominantly grasses and shrubs) and seasonal snow, but the study revealed they cover between five and 15 times the area of permanent glaciers and snow.

Using data from 1993 to 2018 from NASA’s Landsat satellites, researchers measured small but significant increases in subnival vegetation cover across four height brackets from 4,150-6,000 metres above sea level.

“These large-scale studies using decades of satellite data are computationally intensive because the file sizes are huge. We can now do this relatively easily on the cloud by using Google Earth Engine, a new and powerful tool freely available to anyone, anywhere,” said study researcher Dominic Fawcett, who coded the image processing.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region extends across all or part of eight countries, from Afghanistan in the west to Myanmar in the east. More than 1.4 billion people depend on water from catchments emanating here.

According to the study, results varied at different heights and locations, with the strongest trend in increased vegetation cover in the bracket 5,000-5,500m.

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Around Mount Everest, the team found a significant increase in vegetation in all four height brackets. Conditions at the top of this height range have generally been considered to be close to the limit of where plants can grow.

Though the study doesn’t examine the causes of the change, the findings are consistent with modelling that shows a decline in “temperature-limited areas” (where temperatures are too low for plants to grow) across the Himalayan region due to global warming.

Other research has suggested Himalayan ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climate-induced vegetation shifts.

“A lot of research has been done on ice melting in the Himalayan region, including a study that showed how the rate of ice loss doubled between 2000 and 2016,” said researcher Karen Anderson.

“It’s important to monitor and understand ice loss in major mountain systems, but subnival ecosystems cover a much larger area than permanent snow and ice and we know very little about them and how they moderate water supply,” Anderson added.

According to the researchers, snow falls and melts here seasonally, and they don’t know what impact changing subnival vegetation will have on this aspect of the water cycle – which is vital because this region (known as ‘Asia’s water towers’) feeds the ten largest rivers in Asia.

Researcher Anderson said “some really detailed fieldwork” and further validation of these findings is now required to understand how plants in this high-altitude zone interact with soil and snow. (IANS)