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From the 
Himalayas

A system to remove, process, and transform waste from the Everest region 

The majestic beauty of Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal, home of Mount Everest, draws over 80,000 visitors annually, offering tourists an unforgettable experience in nature. While this has brought considerable socio-economic benefits to the area, it has also resulted in tragic amounts of waste and pressure on the region’s delicate ecosystem during the last few decades.

 

In collaboration with Sagarmatha Next we developed the “Carry me back” program and the “From the Himalayas” product collection. These important initiatives offer sustainable solutions to remove, process, and transform waste from the Everest region.

Khumbu, Nepal

Location

Sagarmatha Next

Client

Services

Design research

Product and system design 

Production process design

Storytelling and documentation

Date

January 2017 - July 2022

The waste problem

During the trekking season, approximately 1 ton of waste is left each day in the Everest region. The high altitude, lack of connectivity, and limited recycling infrastructure make it challenging to remove waste, resulting in more than 80 open pits in the region in which waste is burned - contaminating the soil, water, and air and threatening biodiversity.

CARRY ME BACK

The “Carry me back” program is a crowdsourced waste removal system that harnesses the movement of locals and tourists from the mountains to lower regions where transported waste can be recycled. 

 

Waste is collected from the open pits, restaurants, lodges, and hiking trail trash bins by  the local waste management organization Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC). At their new processing facility, waste is sorted, shredded, and packed in 1 kilo “Carry me back” bags. 

The filled bags are then offered to locals and visitors at a pick-up station. The ”Carry me back” bags are easily clipped onto backpacks and transported via the trail to the regional airport. Private airlines transport it to Kathmandu where a partner facility recycles the waste.

WASTE TO PRODUCT

Once waste is transported via the “Carry me back” program to Kathmandu, it is processed. While some materials, like PET bottles and aluminum cans, are processed on a more industrial scale, for the processing of HDPE water bottle caps, Super Local was tasked with converting this waste material into unique products that tourists can buy both averting waste and financing Sagarmatha Next’s important work.

The final output is the “From the Himalayas” product collection, which consists of 3 different pebble-shaped plastic stones and a scale model of the Himalayas’ most iconic peaks. These colorful products use thousands of recycled bottle caps and are perfect items for tourists to remember their adventure, and hopefully their responsibility to the environment, even as they return home.

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