Apple backs energy and waste saving standard phone charger

IPhone maker among 10 mobile phone companies that will support micro-USB chargers in an attempt to curb electronic waste

The European Commission (EC) announced today that 10 mobile phone manufacturers and chip producers, including Apple, have signed up to an initiative designed to cut down on electronic waste and improve energy efficiency through the production of standardised mobile phone chargers.

Companies signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will harmonise chargers in Europe on the basis of the micro-USB connector, limiting the need for every phone to come with its own charger.

Apple's involvement in the scheme comes as a surprise. When plans for a standard mobile phone charger were announced at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona earlier this year, Apple was noticeably absent from the list revealed by the GSM Association (GSMA), the trade body that represents the mobile phone industry.

However, some companies that were on the initial list, such as 3, Orange, T-Mobile, AT&T and Vodafone, now appear to be absent from the new agreement.

Apart from Apple, the companies that have signed the MoU are LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research in Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Texas Instruments.

Handset maker HTC did not sign up to either the GSMA or the EC undertaking.

An Apple spokesman explained that the reason for the discrepancy between the lists is that Apple is not a member of the GSMA, but is a member of Digital Europe, whose members are supporting the MoU.

"As we've said in the past, we are committed to the Apple dock connector, and this initiative will not require us to change it. Today's memorandum gives manufacturers the option to provide an adapter that connects with the universal charger," he said.

It is expected that the first generation of new inter-chargeable mobile phones will reach the EU market in 2010.

The EC report said that the new standard meant "consumers will not need to buy a new charger together with every mobile phone, and they should also benefit from more efficient and cheaper standalone chargers".

The EC also highlighted the environmental benefits associated with harmonising chargers, arguing that the standard will not only lead to more energy efficient chargers, but should also reduce the number of devices that end up as potentially hazardous electronic.

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