One charger for all phones

THE dream of a one-size-fits-all cellphone charger is no longer just wishful thinking.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the technology arm of the United Nations, has just given its stamp of approval for a universal charger system that will allow mobile phone users to juice up their devices from any available charger, regardless of manufacturer or make.
The move will "dramatically cut the number of chargers produced, shipped and subsequently discarded as new models become available" because new phones can still use existing chargers, a statement from the ITU said. iphone crowds
As it is now, new phone chargers are packaged with every new handset. Consumers are thus likely to have a drawer of unused chargers collecting dust, as many people in countries like Singapore change cellphones every year or so. mobile phone
Each manufacturer has its own proprietary charger design, and different models require different chargers now.
Electronic waste now makes up 5 per cent of all solid waste worldwide - and mobile phones and computers are the biggest culprits because they are replaced most frequently, said Greenpeace International, a global organisation that campaigns against environment degradation.
Between 30 million and 50 million tonnes of such e-waste are discarded yearly worldwide.
Chargers using the new Universal Charging Solution, or UCS, are also three times more energy efficient than unrated chargers.
The switch to a universal charger is likely to halve standby energy consumption and reduce redundant chargers by 51,000 tonnes a year, the GSM Association predicted. The change will also cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by 13.6 million tonnes.
The move, proposed by the GSM Association in February, is supported by leading phone manufacturers like Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, as well as carriers like NTT DoCoMo, AT&T and Vodafone.
Cellphones which use universal chargers are expected to start appearing next year and go mainstream by 2012. They will have micro USB ports, like those now on digital cameras and music players.
Nokia spokesman Francis Cheong told The Straits Times it had piloted a programme in Europe where people could choose to buy phones without the chargers. "We are also surveying consumers to see if more people would like this choice," he said.
Technology consultancy Ovum's senior analyst Emeka Obiodu said "once UCS reaches a critical mass in circulation after 2012, the industry should stop shipping a new charger with every new phone.
That would save over 500 million new chargers that would have been manufactured", he said.


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