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Saturday, August 15, 1998 Published at 20:15 GMT 21:15 UK

World: South Asia

Everest bottle ban

Rubbish is piling up on the roof of the world

The Nepalese authorities are imposing a ban on taking bottled drinks into the Mount Everest region.

The action is aimed at helping to reduce the amount of garbage in the area.

The tourist boom in the Himalayas has left a growing mountain of waste which environmentalists say threatens the conservation of the region.

[ image:  ]
It is estimated that mountaineers and other visitors have left more than 50,000 bottles.

Umesh Kumar Singh, of the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism, says: "It has become a big headache for the local people and the government to get rid of these empty bottles due to lack of recycling facilities in the Everest region."

The litter abandoned on the mountain also includes empty tins, batteries and used oxygen cylinders as well as a growing amount of human excrement which does not break down in the freezing temperatures.

[ image: Canned drinks are approved for recycling]
Canned drinks are approved for recycling
However, Mr Singh says the garbage accumulation at the foothills of Mount Everest is gradually diminishing, due to the efforts of the Nepal Mountaineering Association assisted by teams from the United States and Europe.

In June the predominantly American Everest Environmental Expedition collected over a tonne of rubbish in one week, most from the site of the Everest Base Camp - a popular tourist trekking destination.

Most of the rubbish collected was intended for export to the US for recycling.

Aluminium alternative

[ image: A growing number of climbers is causing mounting environmental problems]
A growing number of climbers is causing mounting environmental problems
The ban, which comes into effect on Monday, will apply to hundreds of hotels and tea stalls that cater for the thousands of tourists who visit the area each year.

The absence of bottles is likely to lead to an increase in the use of canned drink, the refuse from which can be recycled, according to Mr Singh.

He says: "The benefit of aluminium cans is that garbage collectors are buying the empty beer and soft drink cans at an average rate of 80 cents per kg because the white metal is in high demand which, after recycling is used for making aluminium utensils."

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