In the summer of 2013, Explore pioneered a de-littering program on Mount Toubkal and as a result, removed an estimated 1,035kgs (1.035 tonnes) of waste from the mountain, in just under six months.
Over recent years, litter has become a huge issue on Mount Toubkal, with the average trekking group leaving between two to three kilograms of non-biodegradable waste behind, per day. Waste left at the mountain refuge is burned at the incinerator, however with many people eating tinned food while on their trek - much of it does not break down completely and causes damage to the soil and water resources when buried. In addition to this, huge volumes of waste are also left scattered across the rest of the mountain; this waste is left to decay causing negative repercussions on the sensitive mountain environment.
This waste management technique is unsustainable and unfair on the local people whose home environment is being damaged. With Toubkal being one of Morocco’s most popular destinations for tourists, and thousands of trekkers climbing the mountain every year, Explore believes change is needed urgently, and was keen to implement a program which could be easily reproduced by other operators in the industry.
With an objective of leaving zero waste on the mountain, Explore’s De-littering Program has seen the company collect all of the waste produced by its staff and customers while on Mount Toubkal, and taking it to Imlil, where it is segregated (recycling and non-recycling) and sustainably disposed of - as oppose to disposing of it on the mountain. In addition to this, it has also employed an extra muleteer and mule for each of its five group tours (23 separate departures in 2013 and 33 departures in 2014) that visit Mount Toubkal, so that the trek staff not only have the capacity to carry their groups waste down the mountain, but can also pick up any other rubbish they see along the way.
This new system not only ensures that Explore’s groups leave zero waste on Mount Toubkal, but also means that it is contributing to minimising the existing waste on the mountain, and encouraging other companies to do the same.