Micro-USB standard could cut annual carbon emissions by 13.6m tonnes

UN approves universal USB phone charger

The hope of making micro-USB phone chargers an industry standard took an important step this weekend, with the UN’s International Telecommunication Union approving the plans.

It’s now likely that virtually all mobile phones will be charged with the same micro-USB port.

While this will bring massive convenience to mobile phone users, the UN said the shift to micro-USB would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 13.6 million tonnes.

Industry group GSMA claims that that as much as 51,000 tonnes of mobile phone chargers become redundant waste each year.

Key to both issues of convenience and environmental waste is the industry’s current practice of devising unique chargers for each model of mobile phone.

It means that a huge number of chargers become useless as people upgrade.

But now it is hoped that all mobile phone manufacturers will implement micro-USB charging in the years to come, simplifying production and giving users the incentive to hold onto their old chargers.

"This is a significant step in reducing the environmental impact of mobile charging," said Malcolm Johnson, director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau.

"Universal chargers are a common-sense solution that I look forward to seeing in other areas."

The Micro-USB standard is not compulsory, though it is believed that the major manufacturers will adopt the standard.

"We are planning to launch the universal charger internationally during the first half of 2010," a spokesperson for Sony Ericsson told the BBC.

"We will roll it out with new products as they launch."

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