Electronic waste or e-waste generated by the mining of bitcoins is huge, a recent study reveals. The amount of e-waste generated equals 30, 700 tonnes, according to the study. This e-waste quantity amounts to an average of 272 grams for every transaction that the blockchain processes.
At its highest price points, a bitcoin (BTC) can produce a maximum of 64, 400 tonnes of e-waste, the study mentions.
The study states that the amount of e-waste generated annually by bitcoin mining can be compared to that generated by a small IT device used in a region such as the Netherlands. Small devices in this context include PCs, mobile phones, telephones and printers.
Reasons why Bitcoin Mining Generates E-Waste
It is no secret that Crypto mining, especially bitcoin mining, earns good money. The earning potential of bitcoin mining comes from the fact that miners keep creating new bitcoins. Focus is now on the reasons that contribute to e-waste generation:
High Electricity Consumption
The computing functions behind bitcoin mining demand heavy electricity consumption. Mining involves the creation of hashes, a task that requires heavy computing.
The success of miners depends on the development of new blocks for bitcoin blockchain. Each participating miner is keen on developing a new block, which increases the need for substantial computing.
In this mining environment, the efficiency of a machine to perform computing becomes a parameter for success. As a result, the higher the ability of a machine to perform computations, the more profitable it is considered.
This thick competition among miners leads to substantial electricity consumption. An increase in electricity consumption leads to an increase in greenhouse gases.
Low Shelf-Life of Bitcoin Mining Equipment
Computers used for Bitcoin mining come with a very short lifespan. They become obsolete in as few as 1.29 years. The e-waste generated as a result of discarding old machines at such a rapid rate is huge.
Poor Recycling Efficiency
As electricity consumption is high for Bitcoin mining, miners prefer devices with high processing efficiency. As a result, highly specialized hardware goes into the making of Bitcoin mining machines.
The hardware, referred to as ASICs or Application-Specific Integrated Circuits, are highly specialized for the task of Bitcoin mining. As a result of such acute specialization, the hardware exhibits poor recycling efficiency as it starts becoming obsolete. These ICs cannot be used in other cryptocurrency production or in other recycling processes.
E-waste generation presents a significant environmental threat. Bitcoin production involves substantial e-waste. It can help if miners employ expert-recommended mining strategies to reduce such waste.