The greening of smartphones: O2 Ireland begins selling smartphones without chargers

6 Feb 2013

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The forthcoming HTC One X+

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O2 Ireland is to embark on a pilot scheme to start selling handsets without chargers, beginning with the HTC One X+. The idea is to encourage smartphone owners to reuse an existing charger rather than purchase a new one.

The pilot is a partnership with HTC and will see Telefónica-owned O2 Ireland selling the forthcoming One X+ handset without a charger plug.

The phone will come with a USB-to-micro-USB cable which can be used with existing chargers that have a USB input, or with a USB slot on a PC. Customers will be able to buy a charger if they choose.

The HTC One X+ features a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor, 64GB of internal storage, and a 2100 mAh battery, which provides longer life and up to 37pc more talk time than its predecessor, the HTC One X.

The cost of chargers to the environment

“There is a big environmental cost to producing multiple, often redundant chargers,” O2 Ireland consumer director Ashley Cook explained.

“I believe that, as mobile phones have become more prevalent, we as retailers and manufacturers have an ever greater responsibility to be a more sustainable industry. I am delighted that we are pioneering a more environmentally friendly and charger-free approach with such an impressive device,” Cook said.

As earlier reported by Siliconrepublic.com, a similar scheme in the UK saw 82pc of customers opt to reuse an old charger. The CEO of O2 in the UK, Irishman Ronan Dunne, said there are 30m new phones sold in the UK every year.

Dunne said that if the pilot were repeated with all handsets there would be 24m fewer chargers sold in the UK, an enormous environmental saving.

The mobile operator anticipates a similar trend will occur in Ireland.

“Like O2, we think that it is the right time to inform our customers about the environmental impact of wasted phone chargers, as well as the benefits of using the chargers and mains adapters that they already own,” said HTC country manager Lisa Duggan.

“We strongly believe in the benefits of a common industry micro-USB charger and have implemented this hardware across our entire portfolio.

“A unified approach across all manufacturers and retailers would dramatically decrease the industry’s carbon footprint, not only in terms of manufacturing but also packaging and transport.”

Research by O2 suggests there are as many as 100m unused chargers in the UK that are either duplicates of existing kits or from old handsets.

The cost of these excess handsets to the environment are as follows:

  • A total of 18,700 tons of components (the same weight as 1,000 London buses)
  • 200,000 kilometres (124,274 miles) of copper wire and plastic covering (enough to wrap the O2 Arena 200,000 times)
  • A volume of landfill equivalent to four Olympic swimming pools if all were thrown away.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com