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Bitcoin Mining generated as much e-waste as some countries last year

Bitcoin Mining generated as much e-waste as some countries last year
Photo Credit: Pexels
15 Sep, 2021

In a yet-to-be-published report by the journal of Resources, Conservation and Recycling estimates that e-waste generated by the Bitcoin network adds up to 30.7 metric kilotons annually as of May 2021, comparable to small IT and telecommunication equipment generated by a country like the Netherlands. The demand for mining hardware disrupts the global semiconductor supply chain, said the report.   

The popularity of Bitcoin has led to an extraordinary surge in energy consumption and e-waste.   

As Bitcoin price touched Rs 36.98 lakh in India on Wednesday, a research report by Bloomberg earlier this week said that energy consumption by the cryptocurrency network has also increased.  

Energy used to mine Bitcoin in 2021 has already surpassed 67 TWh (Terrawatt-hours) consumed during the entirety of 2020 and is expected to touch 91 TWh, or the equivalent of energy consumed by Pakistan.   

The report attributes the increase in energy consumption to more miners joining the network who do not use the most energy-efficient machines.    

During the process of mining a Bitcoin, multiple computers are connected to the cryptocurrency networks. These computers verify the Bitcoin transactions. The miners are often rewarded in small amount of Bitcoins.   

As Bitcoin prices soar, more miners are coming online to reap the benefits.   

A separate report published in February that cited estimates made by The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance said that the Bitcoin network uses more than 121.36 TWh of energy, more than the energy consumption of Argentina. An online tool developed by researchers at the institute predicted that the energy consumption by the network was creeping up to the levels of consumption by the country of Norway at 122.20 TWh.