It shouldn’t be surprising that cryptocurrency is bad for the environment, but a recent study has shown just how bad it might be.
“As a result, we estimate that the whole bitcoin network currently cycles through 30.7 metric kilotons of equipment per year. This number is comparable to the amount of small IT and telecommunication equipment waste produced by a country like the Netherlands.”
The equipment that they are referring to is the servers that run the Bitcoin network and primarily the ASIC chips used to run them. These chips are only in use for just under a year before they are replaced with newer and more effective chips by miners.
The report states further that “on average Bitcoin generates 272 g of e-waste per transaction processed on the blockchain.” This roughly translates to about two iPhone 12 Mini’s of waste on just one transaction.
This is a problem because e-waste can contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that enter the soil and harm surrounding ecosystems and groundwater. If it isn’t properly recycled, the waste could affect air and water pollution even further.
Some miners have attempted to create a more environmentally friendly way to mine for cryptocurrency but easily the biggest is Bitcoin, and they haven’t done anything to improve their environmental impact. If the price of Bitcoin were to rise again, the e-waste could grow to more than 64.4 kilotons.
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