No charger please, just a new phone

Published: 26/09/2012
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Big mess of chargers

We want to do our part to reduce the environmental impact from new phones, the communications industry and the world as a whole. That’s why we’ve committed to delivering carbon benefits to our customers that are 10 times the impact of our own network.

As part of this, we’re working with HTC to try something new – taking chargers out of the box. We’re doing this because our research shows the UK has more than 100m chargers lying in drawers, tangled in cupboards and generally gathering dust. The majority of phones are now upgrades and chargers that use USB cables are now widely used, meaning the bit of plastic that plugs into the wall can actually be used by pretty much every phone.

Cables included

We’ll be announcing specifics about the phone over the next few weeks, but one thing we can confirm is that it has a micro-USB charging slot and you’ll still get a micro-USB to USB cable in the box. We also hope to do this with more and more phones in the future and to have others in the industry join us.

What Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 in the UK, says:
“The environmental cost of multiple and redundant chargers is enormous and I believe that, as the mobile phone has become more prevalent, we as retailers and manufacturers have an ever-greater responsibility to be a more sustainable industry.”

It’s not about making profit – people who buy this phone will be able to buy a charger from us for cost price, if you really need one – it’s about helping the environment. The 100m unused chargers we estimate the UK owns have already had a huge environmental cost: the weight of 1,000 London buses worth of components, enough copper and plastic to wrap The O2 200,000 times and, if we threw them all away at the same time, four Olympic swimming pools worth of landfill space.

Watch out for more on the next few weeks – in the meantime we’d love to hear how many chargers you have. A quick office poll here showed that one guy has six, although we think some of you may be able to do better…

Here comes the science

Finally, we just wanted to explain the statistics we’ve used.

100m chargers: The 100m charger statistic is based on current annual handset sales, rates of redundancy and upgrade rates extrapolated to the industry as a whole.
Environmental cost of chargers: 100m chargers use 18,700 tonnes of components and 124,274 miles of copper wire and plastic covering. That’s quite a lot.

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