Published: Sept. 22, 2019
Glaciers and Garbage: Towards Sustainable Solid Waste Management in the Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park, Nepal (NGS-55262C-19)

Alton C. Byers, Ph.D
CAS Luncheon Series
Thursday, September 26 @ 12:30PM
CASE Building, room W311

The accumulation of solid waste in the world’s high mountain basecamps and high camps has been a chronic problem facing alpine and nival ecosystems since mountaineering first became popular in the 1850s. The problem has further intensified with the steady acceleration of trekking and mountaineering tourism during the past four decades. But while the issue of garbage in the Everest basecamp has made headlines for decades, little attention has been paid to the problem of tourist-related solid waste accumulations along the main trekking trails throughout the park. Each year, an estimated 400 tons of plastic, metals, glass, and other refuse is generated by the tourist industry that is burned and buried in some 75 community landfills located near villages, creating health hazards for humans and livestock alike. At the request of local communities and government authorities, the University of Colorado and Arizona State University have been working since July 2019 to develop and implement a sustainable solid waste management plan based upon the principles of reduction, re-use, recycling, and collaborative governance. The presentation will cover the project’s progress to date and include a review of the history of tourist-related solid waste in high mountain regions (solid and human), management constraints, and prospective solutions. 

Alton C. Byers, a mountain geographer, conservationist, and mountaineer specializing in applied research, high altitude ecosystems, climate change, glacier hazards, and integrated conservation and development programs.