The environmental impact of IPFS

Hey guys i am working on a idea, dematerialize receipts. I mean when you buy something when you go to the supermarket, you use the NFC of your smartphone to get the receipt and after that the receipt is store on IPFS (please i am at the beginning at the project so I haven’t seen the technical problems yet).

So my questions is, what are the environmental advantages of using IPFS rather than going through a cloud provider?

Technical problems aside what problem are you trying to solve? Is there a problem with how receipts are currently being handled that needs fixing?

The environmental impact of a receipt, i can give you some statistics to imagine that.
- 12.5 billion receipts printed only in France.
- 150 thousand tons of paper.
- 25 million felled trees
- 18 billion liters of water
- 22 Million barrel of oil
I am iterating as part of my studies on a problem, that’s why I would like data on the ecological impact of IPFS

Not directly related to IPFS, but I’m aware of a startup called Refive that does digital receipts for many POS systems.

So my questions is, what are the environmental advantages of using IPFS rather than going through a cloud provider?

I don’t think there are any environmental advantages per se. IPFS is a protocol that is implemented in a number of software implementations.

You could run an IPFS node on environmentally friendly cloud providers, but it’s not really IPFS that brings you those benefits.

Having said that, the benefits of IPFS are numerous – especially providing a more interoperable and open system to store data and move it around.

I understand your point of view, but stock the receipt on a cloud provider may have much environmental impact so i am searching a solution throw IPFS.

I am not sure IPFS would be the right tool for this scenario as the receipts would generally be public on it, while they can be sensitive and should be private by default unless shared by the customer.

Otherwise I would also be interested in whether environmental impact of IPFS or its energy consumption have been thought of.

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Your right about the energy consumption but you can cypher your receipt on the network so it’s not a problem

I don’t know where you got these numbers but you might want to check them. I’m getting some really wacky numbers for the weight of a receipt, number of reciepts per tree, etc. but maybe I missed a zero or two.

What I mean is there are already solutions for digital receipts, it seems like the problem is more about getting people off physical receipts and onto digital ones. But if you wanted to be more environmentally conscious, I’m guessing you’d be wayyyyy better off trying to reduce packaging than eliminating the receipt. Hell, just getting people to stop printing out coupons with the receipt (I don’t know if they do that in France but US grocery stores do it) Or just finding a way to make the receipts shorter. I know I’ve gotten some ridiculously long ones for a single item.

I know, you probably wanted a more technical answer. The comparison between IPFS and the cloud is a little difficult because there’s nothing that says you can’t run IPFS “in the cloud”. If you wanted to compare it to something like S3 they also support hash checksums so I’d imagine it’s fairly similar in power requirements but I’d imagine anything is going to be really hard to compare as far as power requirements.


I agree with @zacharywhitley it has more to do with regulation requirements for offline businesses rather than the implementation side.

IPFS is the same thing as a cloud just a p2p one. My assumption is that it consumes more in general because you run a full node while clouds are more granular because they use managed instances(smaller units that scale up and down on demand thus more efficient). Nothing stops IPFS from moving to such architecture but it’s been built as a single binary rather than a cluster of micro services from the beginning so there is not enough interest for such a migration.

Reference: IPFS as a modular plug and play service system - 3rd party integrations and interoperability