Increased E-Waste From Bitcoin Mining Raises Concerns

Increased E-Waste From Bitcoin Mining Raises Concerns

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Thanks to the fast-developing crypto industry, our environment is forced to bear the burden of increased electronic waste generated by energy-dependent Bitcoin mining hubs. The data highlighting the substantial volume of electronic waste generated by mining clusters has been disclosed in a recent study conducted by Christian Stoll and Alex de Vries. The estimates reveal that the annual volume of e-waste generated by crypto mining projects is equivalent to the small IT and telecom equipment waste of a country like the Netherlands. 

According to the study, crypto miners contribute 30,700 tonnes of e-waste annually, taking the average figure to 272g per transaction. The average life cycle of the computers used for Bitcoin mining purposes was merely 1.3 years. According to Vries, this is very low compared to the life cycle of other electronic devices like iPhones. 

It is well-known that new Bitcoins are added to the blockchain channel through mining that uses high-tech computers. These computers utilize high amounts of energy causing high volume pollution-causing energy emissions. The greenhouse gas pollution deteriorates the environment, posing threat to living creatures and the environment. The use of specialized chips called Application-specific Integrated Circuits in mining computers is a major contributor to e-waste. When obsolete, these chips cannot be reused for any other purpose, thereby adding heaps of waste to the ecosystem. 

Interestingly, the metal casings and aluminum heat-sinks used in this equipment are recyclable. This comes as a challenge, as globally only 17% of total e-waste is recycled. This figure is low in countries where the majority of mining hubs are run with no proper regulations. The excessive use of chips is hampering the supply chain of other electronic products. The report suggests that the mining industry should alter the verification protocol by adopting energy-efficient computing technology and devices.

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