Nepal bans single-use plastics near Everest

Nepal bans single-use plastics near Everest

An increase in climbers ascending Mount Everest is leading to a growing trash problem for the region, leading officials to ban certain single-use plastics and restrict access to the summit. 

KATHMANDU, Nepal — An increase in climbers ascending Mount Everest is leading to a growing trash problem for the region, leading officials to ban certain single-use plastics and restrict access to the summit.

Officials in Nepal banned climbers from bringing single-use plastics under 0.0012 inches (30 microns) into the Khumbu region, where Everest is, and shops are prohibited from selling them.

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"All types of plastic bags, bottles and items not meeting the given standard will be banned here," Ganesh Ghimire, the chief administrative officer of Khumbu Pasanglhamu Rural Municipality, told myRepublica. "Anyone using banned plastic items will be fined."

The rules go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

About 150,000 tourists a year visit the area. Climbers have to walk through myriad cities as they approach the mountain, leaving growing piles of trash along the way.

A group of about 20 people removed more than 11 tons of debris, much of it empty cans, plastic bottles and old climbing gear, in April and May from the mountain, Reuters reported.

The Everest Cleanup Campaign group also unearthed four human bodies. Their identities and how long they had been there are not known.

About 5,000 climbers have reached the summit since Sir Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay, made it to the top in 1953. Nearly 300 people have died on the way to the top. Many of their bodies have been left on the mountainside.

Eleven climbers died in 2019. Officials said the causes were more from inexperience, not overcrowding.

Officials are also looking to restrict permits to the top to only more experienced climbers. Those changes could be in place by the end of the year, CNN reported. Permits to the summit cost $11,000 and play an important role in the country's economy. Nepal issued 381 permits in 2019, Reuters reported. The spring climbing season starts May 2020.