Bitcoin mining isn't just consuming energy, it's also generating 272 grams of e-waste with every transaction

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Bitcoin mining isn't just consuming energy, it's also generating 272 grams of e-waste with every transaction
Bitcoin mining rigCanva
  • A yet to be published report puts Bitcoin amongst the top e-waste generators in the world.
  • Bitcoin generates 272 grams of e-waste per transaction processed on the blockchain.
  • Bitcoin’s energy consumption in 2021 has already surpassed that of 2020.
Bitcoin mining uses a lot of energy — but that’s not the only environmental concern the community has to take into account. According to a new study by Science Direct, mining generates as much as 30.7 metric kilotons of e-waste every year as of May 2021. That’s comparable to small IT equipment waste produced by countries like the Netherlands.

“On average Bitcoin generates 272 grams of e-waste per transaction processed on the blockchain.”

Excerpt from Science Direct report

The bigger concern is that, unlike energy consumption which is minimal in comparison to other players, Bitcoin amongst the world’s largest e-waste producers — including smartphones which were estimated to have contributed 50 million tonnes of waste in 2019, approximately 10% of the total global e-waste in the world at the time.

The study indicated that Bitcoin could produce as much as 64.4 metric kilotons of e-waste, overall this year. “E-waste represents a growing threat to our environment, from toxic chemicals and heavy metals leaching into soils, to air and water pollution caused by improper recycling,” said the study.
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Bitcoin’s energy consumption hasn’t reduced — its just moved out of China



Such large amounts of e-waste could be troublesome for the world’s largest Bitcoin miners who have already run afoul of regulators in countries like China. According to a new study from Bloomberg, the Bitcoin Network has already consumed 91 terawatt-hours (TW/h) within the first of 2021 — surpassing the 67 TW/h it consumed in all of 2021, in line with the 95.68 TW/h consumption estimated by the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index ( CBECI).

China’s crackdown on Bitcoin miners earlier this year led some of the world’s largest miners, including Huobi Global and BTC.TOP, to halt their operations in the country. While this led to a drop in the total hashrate under 90 million terahashes in July, it has been on the rise since. And, miners in North America have had the post to gain from China’s crackdowns. Blockchain.com puts the total hashrate at around 132.771 million terahashes right now.
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To be fair, Bitcoin’s total e-waste production is still only 0.11% of the global estimate, according to Statista.com. However, the fact that platforms like Ethereum and Cardano have been cutting energy consumption by as much as 99% could make statistics like this troublesome for the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency.

For a more in-depth discussion, come on over to Business Insider Cryptosphere — a forum where users can deep dive into all things crypto, engage in interesting discussions and stay ahead of the curve.

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