2020-21 Nominee
– Summit Foundation

Mountain Protection, UIAA


The Summit Foundation wishes to raise awareness about the problem of littering through its project the Clean-Up Tour. The Tour consists of waste collection operations in the mountains across Switzerland and Italy. While the focus is on recovery of litter left in the mountains to avoid its degradation into micro-waste, each event is used to raise awareness about the impact of litter on wildlife and habitats among volunteers and locals, as well as to collect data on waste in the mountains.


Littering in the mountains is a real scourge for nature: water and soil pollution, direct impact on wildlife and negative visual impact on tourism (2,700 tons of plastic in Switzerland per year according to the Federal Office for the Environment). The objective is to raise awareness of the problem of littering. The Clean-Up Tour allows to increase the visibility of littering events by gathering them at a national level. Active since 2001, the foundation benefits from 20 years of experience in this field.


The mission of the Clean-Up Tour is to organise waste collection operation in the mountains throughout Switzerland and Italy from April until September 2020 – 2023. In addition to running 30 clean up events in mountainous areas and around ski resorts, each event will seek to engage with and educate those volunteers taking part, locals as well as others in the area about the impact of litter on wildlife and habitats. An on-going awareness campaign will be run on social media and via media interviews. The operations take place in German, Italian and French-speaking destinations.

This project allows the recovery of litter left in the mountains to avoid its degradation into micro-waste which will then end up in other ecosystems.


  1. Raising awareness on the problem of littering
  2. Education through the action of waste collection
  3. Bringing together all actions under one roof at national level to maximise the impact of such events – organisational, logistical and communication support to destinations
  4. Collect data on littering in the mountains – scientific study (sampling) set up

This project allows the recovery of litter left in the mountains to avoid its degradation into micro-waste which will then end up in other ecosystems.

Expected implementation and outcomes

Pre-project: fundraising, contacts with destinations, partnerships
Implementation: press release, interviews, collections, weighing and sampling of waste, communication via social networks (before/after each collection), photos/videos
Evaluation: monitoring of expenditure, pooling of all data collected
Conclusion: writing of the final Clean-Up Tour report (one per year), survey via online form

Annual calendar
September – October: fundraising, partnerships, contacts with destinations
January – February: development and production of communication tools
March to May: contact with stakeholders, definition of the calendar, website update
May to September: organisation of collection days, on-site presence, inventory management, sampling, media presence, website update
September to October: survey, evaluation of results and drafting of the annual project report

Evaluation/impact monitoring
Number of participants: Registration lists
Number of events: Schedule
Scientific study: sampling,
Quantity of waste collected: weighed after each collection
Stakeholder satisfaction: online survey

All these evaluations are conducted by the project leader.

Climbing, mountaineering or outdoor sport focus

Mountains are exceptional. People from all over the world come to interact with this natural environment, either for skiing, mountaineering, mountain-biking, hiking or simply discovering its exceptional panoramas. Where there is human activity, there is littering and thus endangered species and habitats. Across Switzerland and Italy animals such as fishes, birds, cows, ibex, chamois, goats, marmots and of course a lot of various plants and flowers are among these. Litter represents a direct threat to fauna and flora, but indirectly as well to us humans. Plastic, for example, breaks into smaller and smaller pieces within decades and can eventually enter the food chain. Through water, our mountains in Europe’s water tower are directly connected to the oceans.

Best practice in mountaineering and mountain-based sports for mountain protection

Mass tourism and bad behaviour (littering) are the two main issues in the mountains. By organising the Clean-Up Tour, the Summit Foundation brings awareness about the problem of littering and will gather all forces in order to clean-up the mountains. Evacuating trash from summits will contribute to the protection of the fauna and flora living in the mountains. The mountains are also a source of water. Waste from the mountains is naturally carried down to lakes, rivers and even oceans. Cleaning-up the mountains thus contributes to the protection of a lot more ecosystems than the mountain itself.

By taking part in the Mountain Clean-Up Tour, outdoor enthusiasts can help protect their playground. The link between nature and the participants is direct and the impact on their behaviour is immediately measurable. The mountains are one of the most precious heritage for its inhabitants. Every person living near the mountains has a specific relation to its summits. A clean-up day is a good opportunity to give back.

The lift-companies which use the mountain and benefit directly from this environment usually partner with our organisation and give free access to their installations. Tourist offices often co-organise actions with Summit Foundation and help communicate about the clean-up events.

To discover more about the UIAA Mountain Protection Award please click here.