According to recent research, by May 2021, bitcoin mining will be responsible for 30.7 percent of the e-waste produced by countries such as the Netherlands in small amounts of IT equipment.
According to a new Science Direct study, the annual amount of e-waste may exceed 64.4 metric kilotonnes in the midterm at peak Bitcoin price levels seen early in 2021, highlighting the dynamic trend if Bitcoin price rises further.
“E-waste represents a growing threat to our environment,” according to the study, ranging from toxic chemicals and heavy metals leaching into soils to air and water pollution caused by improper recycling.
According to Alex de Vries, a cryptocurrency economist and the study’s lead author, as reported by Quartz, when divided by the average number of bitcoin transactions, this equates to just two transactions generating the same amount of waste as a discarded iPad.
These newer, faster, and more energy-efficient mining systems also forced miners to abandon their old equipment.
Furthermore, as mining hardware demand grows, global semiconductor supply chains may be disrupted.
If the price of bitcoin rises, it is likely that more investment in and replacement of ASIC hardware will occur, exacerbating the e-waste problem.
According to the UN, global e-waste generation increased by 21% between 2014 and 2019, reaching 53.6 million metric tonnes, with less than a fifth of that volume recycled.
According to the report, a new mining method known as proof-of-stake should be promoted in order to reduce the amount of e-waste generated by bitcoin. This method uses far less energy than bitcoin’s proof-of-work principle and can be done on any computer.
An iPad’s worth of e-waste is generated for every two bitcoin transactions.
Cryptocurrency mining has a clear negative impact on the environment. Unlocking new coins necessitates the use of massive amounts of electricity-guzzling computers that are constantly solving mathematical problems. Because the issues become more complex over time, the system rewards energy waste. Because downtime reduces your earning potential, having fewer computers running gives you a competitive advantage. Bitcoin’s price, which was $47,318 on September 19, had fallen from an all-time high of more than $60,000 in April, as mining activity and emissions both increased in lockstep. Modern society’s carbon footprint is comparable to that of the Greater London Area.
Unlike other systems, this one requires miners to use only the most recent computer chips and discard any older ones. This results in a large amount of electronic waste, according to a study published on September 16 in the journal Resources, Conservation, and Recycling. An examination of the rate at which new hardware becomes available, as well as the assumption that the majority of miners replace their chips at that rate (a reasonable assumption because profiting from bitcoin mining is nearly impossible otherwise), revealed that the average lifespan of a bitcoin mining chip is only 1.3 years.