Nepal’s Banning Single-use Plastic on Everest (But Not Water Bottles—Yet)

Mount Everest Basecamp Summit Region
Wayne Morris / Shutterstock

There’s no denying Everest has a trash problem. If you’re not aware of the massive efforts made to clean up the mountain of discarded gear, garbage, and, yes, dead bodies, read “Here’s What You Need to Know About Bally’s Cleanup Initiative on Everest“. Now, to prevent further degradation, Nepal is banning single-use plastic on Everest and the surrounding Khumbu area, CNN reports.

What constitutes single-use plastic is anything under 30 microns thick (roughly 0.03 millimeters), which includes things like soda bottles, plastic bags, and most food packaging. Authorities are barring adventurers from bringing goods like this into the region, and will prohibit stores from selling them as well. This new mandate won’t come into effect until January 2020. Unfortunately, that parameter excludes plastic water bottles.

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“We are consulting with all sides about what can be done about plastic water bottles,” Ganesh Ghimire, the chief administrative officer of Khumbu Pasang Lhamu rural municipality told CNN Thursday. “We will soon find a solution for that.”

It’s a step in the right direction—one directed at diminishing waste left by the 150,000 some tourists who come to Everest every year, CNN reports. People go through quite a few villages before they get to basecamp, which amounts to a huge sum of garbage. And that’s not even taking into account the amount of trash left on Everest.

To give you some perspective, The Everest Cleaning Campaign (another cleanup initiative), which started in May 2019 and ran for 45 days, saw 11 tons of garbage removed from the mountain, Reuters reports.

This new ruling will make summiting the world’s highest mountain even harder—on top of the tighter permit rules the Nepalese government recently rolled out.

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