The 2021 Mountain Waste Survey conducted by the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), finds that “Plastic is the most common type of waste encountered at altitude.” While much attention in recent years has gone to the impact of waste in the world’s oceans, pollutions in the mountain are rarely mentioned in headlines.
Negligence by individuals visiting the mountains and poor waste management practices resulting in the global plastic waste crisis has left no region untouched. The pollution on the World’s youngest and highest mountain range – “The Himalayas” needs serious attention.
As part of Coca-Cola and Unilever Nepal’s commitment to making our planet more sustainable, the multinational giants partnered with the Nepali Army in the “Mountain Cleaning Campaign 2021” to #SaveTheHimalayas. The team of 112 members comprising of forty-three Nepali army personnel along with sixty-seven Sherpa supporters succeeded in collecting close to 35tons of waste from 6 peaks- Mt. Everest, Mt. Makalu, Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Pumori, Mt. Ama Dablam and Mt. Dhaulagiri.
According to Brigadier Poudel, the total cost of the 2021 Mountain Cleaning Campaign is US$ 1.07 million. The 31-day Mountain Cleaning Drive commenced on April 25th, 2021. The waste collected from the Himalayas included both bio-degradable waste and non-biodegradable waste such as discarded empty oxygen canisters, abandoned tents, food containers, plastics, glass, aluminium, and electronic waste among others.
The expert team of Nepali army personnel, Sherpas and mountaineering guides ventured into the highest of mountain terrains facing challenges like difficulty in acclimatization, altitude sickness, exposure to frostbites, challenging weather conditions, fear of avalanches, freezing temperatures and a test of physical endurance to #SaveTheHimalayas for the future.
This one of a kind “Mountain Cleaning Campaign 2021” was a multi-partner collaboration between Government, Public and Private Sector partners such as the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Unilever Nepal, ICIMOD, WWF Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board, Yeti Airlines, Coca-Cola, Nepal Distilleries, PlastNet Foundation, Polymet Sa S Pte Ltd, and more. The waste was transported, managed and recycled in Kathmandu by Avni Ventures.
Adarsh Avasthi, Country Director of The Coca-Cola Company in Nepal, said, “We are committed to playing our part in addressing the broader plastic waste challenge and through the Mountain Cleaning Campaign we hope to keep Nepal clean.”
Amlan Mukherjee, Managing Director of Unilever Nepal Ltd., said, “We are committed to make sustainable living commonplace for everyone and will continuously engage in programs like these in the coming days.”
The “Mountain Cleaning Campaign 2021” is one conscious step towards preserving and honouring our mountains. By carrying forward the United Nation’s theme “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore” let’s keep our mountains clean and move a step closer towards a sustainable planet.