The High E-Waste Rate Of Bitcoin Exacerbates Environmental Issues

Avatar
Bitcoin e-waste

There is a heated debate online about the effect mining Bitcoin has on the environment. Other than the massive amount of energy the blockchain consumes, another problem related to the network has arisen- BTC Electronic Waste.

A recent study shows that Bitcoin generates more than 30 metric kilotons of E-waste annually (equates to close to three million devices with a combined weight of 40 metric kilotons).

According to the study, miners dump their single-purpose machines to get new and improved ones. They do this to deal with the ever-increasing competition in the digital market. It takes approximately one year and two months for a machine to stop profiting the miner.

Electronic waste poses a threat to the environment. The reason is that heavy metallic components can seep into the ground, pollute the air or even corrode the water bodies if not properly recycled. The annual E-waste produced (30 metric Kilotons) suggests that every transaction has 272 grams of E-waste.

A way to help reduce this problem is by finding options to use in place of the Proof-of-work mining system. A good option would be Proof-of-Stake. Cardano and Polkadot are some of the blockchains that use this mechanism. Ethereum is slowly transitioning to using the Proof-of-Stake system, although it initially used the PoW system like BTC.

Difference between Proof-of-Stake and Proof-of-Work

PoW and PoS are consensus mechanisms that confirm transfers that occur on blockchain networks.

The main difference between the two consensus mechanisms, as discussed above, is the amount of energy used.

Proof-of-Work

Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin; he wanted to find a way to verify transactions without a third person getting involved. He achieved this with the Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism.

The system is based on different and challenging mathematical equations only nodes can solve. The limitations of this method is the high amount of energy consumed during a transition and the few transactions it can carry out.

Bitcoin, for example, has a TPS rate of about 5 (although it varies), and a transaction takes more than ten minutes to confirm completion. The result is an increase in transaction fees.

Proof of Stake

Created in 2012, the PoS mechanism tries to solve the problems facing the PoW system. Scott Nadal and Sunny King founded this consensus mechanism with the following goals;

  • Equality and fairness
  • Increased Scalability
  • Lower power consumption

Although PoS also uses cryptographic algorithms, it has a different goal. PoW’s goal is to reward miners for solving complicated mathematical equations. PoS, on the other hand, gives the creators power to create the next block depending on the amount they staked.

Final Thoughts

Bitcoin has had a challenging year so far. China’s ban on mining and use of Crypto hit the Crypto market hard. Tesla also revoked their acceptance of Bitcoin as a mode of payment because of climate change concerns.

Bitcoin, however, needs to adopt safer systems like Proof-of-Stake to curb the problem of E-waste and high energy consumption.