Beyond the enormous amount of energy used in the bitcoin mining process, cryptocurrency has another major problem – generating tons of electronic waste. Electronic waste per year on Tuesday stood at 22.59 metric kilotons (2.25 crore kilograms) comparable to small waste IT equipment from the Netherlands, Digiconomist’s Bitcoin Electronic Waste Monitor showed. “The reason is that Bitcoin mining is done with specialized (singular-use) hardware, which becomes obsolete every 1.5 years or so,” he said. E-waste hit an all-time high of 30.39 kilotons (3.07 crore kilograms) on May 9 of this year before dropping to 14.99 kilotons on June 29 – the lowest since June 2019 levels, according to the data.
In fact, bitcoin generates 242.50 grams of electronic waste on average per transaction processed on the blockchain. This is equivalent to the weight of 1.48 iPhone 12 or 0.49 iPad. Explaining how bitcoin generates e-waste, Digiconomist said that within the bitcoin network, all participating mining machines compete for the reward of generating a new block for the underlying bitcoin blockchain. The chance of creating a new block for the blockchain is proportional to its share of the total computing power.
“In such an environment, miners can only compete in terms of profitability. Mining machines require energy to generate hashes. Therefore, the efficiency of this material is determined by the amount of electricity required to perform a number of calculations. The more calculations per unit of energy, the more profitable a machine can be. This has sparked a mad rush to develop more efficient mining equipment, ”he added.
Also Read: Cryptocurrency Solana Continues To Attract Investors With 86% Of Total Inflows In Digital Assets
Compared to the average 242.50 grams of e-waste generated by 1 bitcoin transaction, 10,000 Visa transactions generate only 40 grams of e-waste. “The only way to make Bitcoin truly sustainable is to replace its mining mechanism. Alternatives to this (eg proof of stake) are already available and in use by a range of alternative cryptocurrencies, ”the Monitor said.
According to a recent Bloomberg research report, the total power consumed by the bitcoin network has already crossed the 2020 consumption level of around 67 terawatt hours (TWh) and by the end of 2021 mining is expected to consume 91 TWh of energy – as much as Pakistan. According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index at the University of Cambridge, the energy consumption of bitcoin is closely related to the financial costs incurred in mining as well as the expected price trajectory of bitcoin.