Coming as a respite to climbers on Mount Everest, a Chinese expedition company is going to add an 'eco' toilet on the Earth's highest mountain. The 'eco-friendly' toilets will be placed at a Chinese campsite 7,028 metres (23,058 feet) above sea level in an ongoing campaign to deal with the peak's waste problems.
Decades of commercial mountaineering have turned Mount Everest into the world's highest rubbish dump as an unprecedented number of spendthrift mountaineers pay little or no attention to the ugly trails that they leave behind.
The fluorescent tents, discarded climbing equipment, empty gas canisters, and even human excreta has polluted the well-trodden route to the summit of the 8,848 peak.
During the climbing season this spring, the company will add what the state media has termed as an 'eco-friendly' loo at a higher campsite on the modern slope in Tibet.
"The toilet makes it easy to collect human waste produced by the climbers as there is a barrel with rubbish bags underneath the toilet," said Pema Tinley, the deputy secretary general of the Tibet Mountaineering Association.
The waste that is collected will be brought down to the mountain. This much-needed facility will greatly help in the waste management of the dumpings at the peak.
According to Xinhua, a news agency, similar facilities have been installed at lower camps, including at the 5,200 metres camp base in the north in the previous years.
At the northern base camp, the accumulated waste is taken away daily and is provided to local farmers to use as a fetiliser, as reported by the news agency and a member of the mountaineering management team in February this year.
The temporary toilets will be removed at the end of the climbing season. Governments on both sides of mountains have been battling the human waste and trash left behind by an increasing number of climbers. Coincidentally, In February, China banned non-climbers from accessing its Everest base camp in Tibet in an attempt to clean up their side of the mountain.
The international border between Nepal and China runs across its summit point. As far as Nepal is concerned, their engineers are considering installing a biogas plant near the more popular south base camp that would turn the climbers' filth into useful fertiliser.
Presently, raw sewage from the camp is carried to the next village - a one hour walk - and dumped into trenches, where it risks contaminating water sources down in the valley.
That is not it. Last year, Alton Byers, a mountain geologist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado Boulder, made it known that not just the Mount Everest but areas surrounding the same also have dozen of landfills.
Mount Everest clearly has a mountain of problems; human waste, leftover camp meals, beer, and fuel cans, human excreta. etc. And this initiative by China might just help turn things around to some extent.