The e-waste caused by Bitcoin mining rigs has approached the level of e-waste in small countries like the Netherlands. This was stated by researchers who issued their work in Resource, Conservation, and Recycling states.
Researchers who care about recycling and pollution are not focusing on Bitcoin's carbon footprint this time, but on the level of e-waste it generates.
Most studies continue to ignore the fact that BTC miners are not the most durable equipment, significantly exacerbating the growth rate of the world's e-waste. The study stated that Bitcoin miners lose around 35% of the possible profit in a few months, which is less than 1/3 of the life cycle of this type of electronics. At the same time, in a year the miner loses from 70% to 80% of the potential profit.
E-waste from Bitcoin installations totaled 30.7 metric kilotons for the year. This volume was calculated in May 2021. This number is relative, for example, to the mass of e-waste generated by the IT and telecommunications industries in a country similar to the Netherlands. In the medium term and at peak prices for the main cryptocurrency on the market, the volume of waste within the mining industry only from BTC miners may exceed 64.4 metric kilotons next year.
The authors fear a situation of a critical drop in the value of Bitcoin and, as an outcome, a rapid increase in e-waste due to equipment that has ceased to make a profit in the form of installations liquidated by miners. The number of potentially dumped miners was calculated based on the current power of the Bitcoin blockchain, as well as its price and electricity costs.
This trend is extremely disappointing also because today the demand for BTC miners is disrupting the global semiconductor supply chain, only stimulating a further shortage of chips. In their work, researchers emphasized that to create 1 million of one of the most popular Antminer S19 Pro installations, 1/4 of the production capacity of the level of corporations such as Samsung and TSMC will be required. The latter, by the way, is the only company in the world capable of mass production of 7nm chips installed in new Bitcoin miners.
As a solution to the problem, researchers suggest that the industry should en masse switch to the Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm. This, in their opinion, is the best energy-efficient method to reduce the e-waste generated by the industry every year.
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