More than five tons of waste is produced daily just in Aguas Calientes and the surrounding Machu Picchu area. That number will only increase with the upcoming construction of the Chinchero airport.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu was under the organization’s radar for its poor waste management. Waste produced by tourists and the hospitality industry was either buried under ground, burnt, or thrown into the Urubamba River, threatening the area’s biodiversity and health of residents and visitors alike.
Not only has the municipality of Machu Picchu put into practice waste systems, it also aims to be Peru’s first “eco-friendly municipality,” states Aljazeera. The main source of water for the 1.6 million tourists that visit Machu Picchu yearly is bottled drinking water. This and other plastics are now recycled in a plant partly funded by a private organization.
Similarly, cooking oil used by the dozens of hotels in Aguas Calientes is now repurposed into bio diesel used for cleaning services.
Because of its protected area status, a large treatment site in the municipality Machu Picchu is prohibited, meaning all waste must be transported out by train. Organic residue, however, is being transformed into bio carbon thanks to a treatment plant provided by Inkaterra hotels.
To incentivize tourists to use reusable water bottles and reduce waste, the Machu Picchu municipality will build water dispensers in Aguas Calientes. Single use plastics are already prohibited within the Machu Picchu citadel.
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Cover photo: Andina
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