21 September 2021
Bitcoin mining started as a way for an everyday user to apply PC idle time to generating a little crypto. As Bitcoin has climbed in value, it has become big business. Today, huge mining farms using specially designed hardware generate millions of euros every day.
This activity has an impact on the environment. In recent years, environmentalists have warned that the electricity consumed by Bitcoin miners is making an impact on global climate change.
A new study suggests the environmental impact doesn’t stop there.
Researchers at MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy say that Bitcoin mining is responsible for a significant amount of toxic waste.
Bitcoin miners rely on custom circuit boards that are optimized to perform specialized cryptographic calculations at high speed. To earn rewards, you need ever-faster hardware, so these circuit boards tend to be replaced frequently. When they are discarded, they go into landfills, where the heavy metals and other toxins used in the fabrication of printed circuit boards contribute to pollution.
“E-waste represents a growing threat to our environment,” the researchers report, “from toxic chemicals and heavy metals leaching into soils, to air and water pollution caused by improper recycling.”
The researchers estimate that validating a single transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain generates the same amount of electronic waste as throwing away two iPhone 12 minis.
“Bitcoin’s annual e-waste generation adds up to 30.7 metric kilotons as of May 2021,” the researchers say. “This number is comparable to the amount of small IT and telecommunication equipment waste produced by a country like the Netherlands.”
There is no sign that the production of mining-related waste is slowing.
This text is informative in nature and should not be considered an investment recommendation. It does not express the personal opinion of the author or service. Any investment or trading is risky, and past returns are not a guarantee of future returns. Risk only assets that you are willing to lose.