KATHMANDU: The Mountain Clean-up Campaign 2023, led and coordinated by the Nepali Army has successfully concluded the halfway mark of waste collection from four mountains — Everest, Lhotse, Annapurna and Baruntse.
The noble cause has seen the collaboration of several organisations, with The Coca-Cola Foundation as the major donor partner for the campaign. This is one of the largest mountain cleanup programmes in the world, the campaign commenced on March 28, 2023.
Every year, hundreds of climbers, Sherpas, and high-altitude porters make their way to Mt Everest, leaving behind tonnes of both biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste along the way to the highest peak, leading to a challenging waste management problem in the mountains.
The campaign team comprises a total of 97 dedicated members including Nepali Army personnel and Sherpa supporters. The team had to endure extremely harsh weather conditions which slowed the clean-up efforts and so far, has collected 34,166 kilogrammes of waste from the four mountains. The waste retrieved from the mountains comprises empty oxygen canisters, abandoned tents, food containers, plastics, glass, aluminium, and electronic gadget waste among others. The campaign team continues to complete the campaign with the aim of collecting 35,000kg of waste from the mountains this year.
Campaign Director, Brigadier General Sundar Kumar Pandey of the Mountain Clean-up Campaign 2023 shared, “The Mountain Clean-up Campaign with a noble cause to preserve the sanctity of the Himalayas. Compared to past years, this year we experienced harsher weather conditions during the campaign which led to a number of team members falling behind due to health issues. This also resulted in more evacuations for the safety of the team members. Despite the challenging weather and high-risk situations, the sheer dedication of the team has kept us moving forward towards our goal. The experts and Nepali Army teamed up with the Sherpas, medical officers, rescue operators, high altitude porters as well as local communities which enabled us to collect and bring back the waste not just from the usual route and camps but from all the areas that accumulated waste.”
The Mountain Clean-up Campaign is an initiative led by the Nepali Army and various stakeholders, aimed at protecting the environment of the Himalayas and minimising the effects of climate change. The campaign is currently in its fourth series, and The Coca-Cola Foundation has been a major donor partner for four consecutive years.
This year, the campaign’s theme is ‘An endeavour to save the Himalayas’, reflecting the collective responsibility of all stakeholders to protect the mountains’ delicate ecosystem. The teams are working in close coordination with local government bodies, stakeholders, and partners to ensure the effective and efficient collection of waste from the targeted four mountains.
Anand Mishra, founder and President of Creasion and one of the key partners of the clean-up campaign shared, “Mountain waste poses a significant challenge in Nepal, greatly diminishing the splendour and significance of our majestic peaks. I firmly believe that the campaign is an immensely valuable endeavour, effectively tackling the issue of waste in the mountains while simultaneously raising awareness about this pressing matter. It is our collective responsibility as citizens to attend to the waste in these pristine landscapes. CREASION has taken up the crucial role of co-processing and recycling the collected waste, to ensure its appropriate utilisation and foster sustainable justice for waste management. I am proud and honoured to be a part of this extraordinary initiative. The phenomenal effort of everybody involved in this campaign to collect and retrieve waste is truly commendable.”
After collecting the waste, the teams will hand it over to the recycling partner for further processing, as part of the campaign’s efforts to promote sustainable waste management practices. Until now, waste collected from Mt Annapurna and Mt Baruntse have been handed over to the recycling partner.
To raise awareness and encourage public engagement, the Mountain Clean-up Campaign has utilised digital screens in cities including Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Pokhara and Bharatpur to showcase its ongoing efforts in cleaning the mountains. A final celebration event will be held in Kathmandu to commemorate the campaign’s success upon reaching the goal of collecting 35 tonnes of waste.
The campaign will conclude on June 5, 2023, coinciding with World Environment Day, emphasizing the importance of collective action in preserving the environment for future generations.