Cryptocurrency is fast becoming a widely accepted legal tender worldwide. More and more people are buying into it, and if they do things right, it can be a very profitable venture. 

Cryptocurrency icons
(Photo : Getty Images )

Of course, there's always a downside to cryptocurrency as a whole. It produces a lot of waste, for instance, and Bitcoin seems to be the worst offender. 

According to Gizmodo, a single Bitcoin transaction produces waste equivalent to two full iPhone 12 minis. By extension, the Bitcoin network has been found to produce enough e-waste to rival an entire country, such as the Netherlands. 

All in all, the Bitcoin network produced a total of 30.7 metric kilotons of e-waste as of May 2021. A single Bitcoin makes 272 grams of e-waste in one transaction, which could add up to over 64 metric kilotons of waste at peak price levels.

In other words, the higher the price of Bitcoin, the more e-waste it will generate. 

In 2020 alone, there have been a recorded 112.5 million Bitcoin transactions.

Here's a bit of perspective for you to understand just how much waste this cryptocurrency produces: as mentioned, 272 grams of e-waste is equivalent to throwing away two iPhone 12 minis. 

If you do the math and consider the entire Bitcoin network, that equates to millions upon millions of discarded iPhone 12 Minis per year.

The e-waste comes from the discarded ASIC mining hardware, which often only last for over a year before they're replaced with newer, more power-efficient gear. 

All of this data came from a study published in the journal Resources, Conservation, and Recycling, with an excerpt from it shown in ScienceDirect

Being the erstwhile market leader in cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is perhaps the consistently most profitable of all, despite the current high popularity of other crypto, such as Ethereum. 

Still, this didn't stop some countries from choosing to actually accept the cryptocurrency as a legal tender.

El Salvador is one excellent example, having decided to make Bitcoin an actual currency in the country over a week ago. 

Read also: El Salvador Buys Bitcoin Worth $21 Million-And Plans to Purchase MORE

Cryptocurrency And Its Harmful Environmental Potential

Bitcoin is hardly the only one that produces as much waste material as it does. Cryptocurrency these days, as a whole, is largely mined one way: by using graphics cards. 

 Cryptocurrency mining rig
(Photo : Getty Images )

Graphics cards consume a lot of power.

Modern GPUs, such as the NVIDIA RTX 3080, for one (a very popular cryptocurrency mining card nowadays) pulls as much as 340 watts of power on full load. And if there's one thing that's certain about crypto mining operations: they run these cards ragged 24/7. 

This is why many countries, such as China, have already cracked down on illegal cryptocurrency mining farms. They just consume way too much power that, sometimes, they even steal power.

As such, developers of new crypto options are trying to encourage miners to shift their dependency from GPUs to SSDs and other storage drives (i.e. Chia coin).

Storage drives use up way less power than GPUs, and thus don't produce as much wasted energy. 

Related: Tweaking Bitcoin's Mining Mechanism Might Make for Greener Cryptocurrency

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Written by RJ Pierce

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