The popularity of cryptocurrencies is increasing electronic waste

The growing popularity of cryptocurrencies is rapidly increasing electricity consumption and electronic waste. The flow of electronic waste is growing as cryptocurrency miners are constantly in need of the latest and fastest equipment, and improper waste management poses increasing threats to the environment. What quantities of waste are involved?

A decade ago, anyone with a computer could easily dig into a cryptocurrency (a cryptocurrency – digital money based on blockchain technology) at home. However, times have changed and now cryptocurrency mining requires specialized machines, large space, and enough cooling power to keep the equipment from constantly overheating. As a result, mining is now taking place in giant data centers belonging to companies or groups of people.

“The mining of cryptocurrencies, which is becoming more popular in the world, not only increases the appetite for the use of electricity, but also increases the flow of computer equipment and electronic waste that is no longer suitable for mining. The need to constantly update mining equipment programs a constant increase in the amount of waste, ”says Asta Pakštaitė-Marcinkienė, Head of the Electronics Manufacturers and Importers Organization.

Paris-based economist Alex de Vries has estimated that the computing power of mining equipment doubles every year and a half, making older machines obsolete. According to his calculations, at the beginning of 2021, bitcoin alone, the first and most well-known and popular cryptocurrency in the world, accumulated more electronic waste than many medium-sized countries.

According to a Science Direct study, one bitcoin operation in a block chain generates an average of 242.5 grams of electronic waste (about half the weight of the latest iPad), and is mostly made up of old mining equipment. By comparison, 10,000 Visa card transactions generate 40 grams of electronic waste.

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According to the authors of the study, the equipment used by bitcoin miners is short-lived, so it can be predicted that by the end of the year, this cryptocurrency, if it reaches the highest price level seen in early 2021, can produce up to 64,400 tons of electronic waste. This amount could be compared to the small amount of IT equipment waste generated by a country like the Netherlands.

According to the press release prepared by V. Ž.

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