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Electronic Waste of Bitcoin Transactions

Economists from the Dutch central bank and MIIT use two iPhones as an example to show the amount of electronic waste a single bitcoin transaction can generate.

Bitcoin Transaction Waste Like Binning Two iPhones iBase Trading.
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Economists from the Dutch central bank and MIIT use two iPhones as an example to show the amount of electronic waste a single bitcoin transaction can generate. According to the analysis, the electronic waste is the same as throwing two iPhones in the trash.

They devote more time to researching and analysing bitcoin’s carbon footprint than to cryptocurrency incentives and computer hardware churn. ASICs are specialized computer chips that are only sold for the purpose of running algorithms that protect the bitcoin network. People uses the process called mining. The stockholders of bitcoin receive their pay-outs. Effective mines need to constantly change their ASICs with newer and more powerful one. For the reason that the newest chips are power-efficient enough to mine.


Researchers Alex de Vries and Christian Stoll wrote in a paper titled “Bitcoin’s growing e-waste problem”. It is published in the journal Resources, Conservation, and Recycling. The lifespan of bitcoin mining devices is only limited to 1.29 years. A whole bitcoin cycles through 30.7 metric kilotons of equipment a year. The amount is comparable to the Netherlands’ small IT and telecommunication equipment waste.

The weight of two iPhone 12 minis equates to at least 272g of e-waste. In 2019, 539 billion were processed by traditional payment service providers, while in 2020, bitcoin processed 112.5 million.


According to the authors’ note, e-waste is the main problem with cryptocurrency. ASICs have no other way of using bitcoin mining unlike most computing hardware. ASICs have no purpose at all if not used in bitcoin mining. Theoretically, it is possible to regain the capabilities of the devices when bitcoin prices increase. This makes the mining income rise.

However, there are a lot of factors preventing the development of the lifetime of mining devices. Storing and mining hardware costs money. It is less profitable if users stores itfor a longer period of time.

If the cost of bitcoin continues to rise, it will boost investments in and replacement of ASIC hardware. On another note, the writer expressed her concern by reminding the community that e-waste will rapidly rise if this continues.


The paper concludes that if the community is trying to reduce its electronic waste problem, then Bitcoin has to change its mining process as a whole. Also replace it with a more sustainable alternative. It suggested an experimental replacement, “proof of stake“. A bitcoin successor, Ethereum, made an announcement in May of their plan to move within months to proof of stakes. However, the plans have yet to commence.

“Proof of time and space” algorithm is what Chia cryptocurrency is made of. Sometimes Chia issues causes hard drive and SSD shortages. A few bitcoins were unsuccessful, limiting their environmental footprint. Furthermore, David Gerard, a cryptocurrency expert, observed that Chia damages SSDs in a fast phase. Therefore, instead of just eating up electricity, it has permanently wrecked markets for big HDs.

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Tanya Smith is an editor at iBaseTrading. With M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication, she is pursuing her dream of creating a positive difference in the media industry. She also enjoys Fashion and Travelling.