O2 urges mobile industry not to sell chargers with smartphones

17 Jan 2013

A UK pilot by O2 and HTC to sell smartphones without USB chargers has been a success with four in every five handsets sold charger-free. Now O2 is encouraging phone makers to take the greener option and sell phones charger-free and plans to have eliminated all chargers sold with phones by 2015.

The “charger out of the box” pilot was launched in October and 82pc of those who bought the charger-free handset did not buy a separate charger for it – exceeding O2’s target of 7pc.

The pilot, first of its kind in the world, offered a HTC One X+handset with just the USB-to-micro USB connection lead with the phone.

If punters wanted a charger with the phone they bought it at cost price.

Savings for the environment

There are 30m new phones sold in the UK every year.

The CEO of O2 in the UK Ronan Dunne said that if the pilot were repeated with all handsets there would be 24m less chargers sold in the UK, an enormous environmental saving.

“More than four in five of our smartphone customers who have participated in the trial are willing to buy a new phone from us and to use an existing charging device to attach it to the mains,” Dunne said.

“The results of the trial demonstrate a clear willingness among consumers to consider and respond to the environmental argument for taking a phone charger-free. I now hope that as a result of this study the rest of the industry will now consider joining us in our campaign to take chargers out of the box for good.”

Research by O2 suggests there are as many as 100m unused chargers in the UK that are either duplicates of existing kit 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)

·      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.

“Along with O2, we’ve been encouraged by the numbers of people who have taken our flagship handset without a USB charger,” Phil Roberson, regional director of the UK at HTC explained.

This pilot demonstrates that, if we inform our customers about the environmental impact of wasted phone chargers and the benefits of using the chargers and mains adapters that they already own, they respond positively to the message.” 

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years