One Plug to Fit Them All

Every newly purchased mobile phone comes with a new charger. Even if you’ve already got a working charger from your last phone, chances are it won’t work with the new one. It’s redundant. Each year manufacturers pump out 51,000 tons (the equivalent of an oversize cruise ship) of redundant phone chargers. No more. The International Telecommunication Union has agreed on a design for a universal charger which will go into production next year. The move to one universal charger, eliminating the need for redundant models, is a move predictedto reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13.6 million tons annually. It’s one cheap fix for global warming among many. [%comments]


"It's one cheap fix for global warming among many. "

That's the right philosophy. Al Gore makes the same point using the phrase "silver buckshot" in contrast to "silver bullet". The idea being we're not necessarily looking for a single solution to global warming (or many other problems for that matter), but rather the cumulative effect of many changes.


Hallelujah! That's something that always bothered me.


Don't tell Al Gore!


The universal charger not only eliminates the need to ship a full fledged charger with every phone, but it can also reduce the number of chargers needed per person. There will be no need for an extra charger at work or when traveling, because you will always find a USB socket to plug your phone. We can only hope digital sound players and cameras will follow suit (that's harder for cameras because of the limited current of the USB2 spec).

Many cars already offer usb plugs, so car chargers will be made redundant, too.

It is surprising though that it took so long to come to such an agreement. I don't figure how phone manufacturer benefited from the status quo ?

The same questions can be asked for the handsfree plugs, which used to be model-specific (yes, each brand changed its own plug every now and then...)


Thank God!

Now if only the laptop makers would agree on a standard...

Ralph J Begley

Finally, someone has noticed the ridiculous and wasteful practice of the electronics industry to engineer a new AC adapter for every new device. Try designing an adapter that will meet the power requirements of all new devices.


Not being an electrical engineer and not knowing the details, I'd love a universal charger for just about any hand held device: cell, MP3, digital camera, DS, etc.

My concern isn't so much as having to lug all of these chargers around, especially when on vacation, but just remembering which one plugs into which other one.

I'm waiting for the day when I plug in the wrong unlabeled charger and fry a device.


I think this is starting to change already. Lots of phones these days (especially smart phones) come with a standard mini-USB charger.


What!? You mean there are creative and more efficient ways of reducing waste and energy use? I thought we had to destroy the planet in order to save it.


I had discussed the possibility of holding a charger swap meet at work -- you can have my old LG flat blade charger in exchange for a Sprint round charger.

We didn't do it because we'd have to pay to landfill or recycle any unclaimed chargers left behind.

I am definitely delaying my next phone purchase until after this change takes effect.


How will this apply to Apple's iPhone? Will new models have to have both Apple's proprietary connection and a microUSB slot? I can't see Apple being on board with that.



"Don't tell Al Gore!"

Why not? As I commented above you, Al Gore loves this kind of thing...

Eric M. Jones

This great idea is overdue. Most "wall-wart" chargers drain considerable power while doing nothing useful. New standards for chargers alleviate this waste of power while having the other benefits that you mention.

Years ago Europeans introduced several connections to the AC line that allowed manufacturers to standardize the machine-to-plug interface. The machines could then convert to the proper voltage with a little circuitry. This has proven to be a great and environmentally friendly idea.


The European Commission recently pushed regulation that will force the industry to create a standard so that every newly produced cell phone will work with any standard charger

Walter Wimberly

Several phones already has this type charger...

The other issue is now all devices will end of costing more. Because you won't get a cord with the phone, you'll have to make a separate purchase for this "accessory"


Shine -

I totally agree. That seems pretty redundant as well.

Billy Merck

But you only have to make that purchase once. And if you have a smartphone that already uses this kind of cord (as i do), then that one purchase is already made. Thank God this is finally happening.


As an electrical engineer....
This makes alot of sense. You should not have any problem frying your phone if it fits the plug and the charger is not some piece of junk from a mall cart. Thats one of the smarts of the USB plugs, they are keyed (you can't swap the pins).

The ITU approved the use of a derivate of USB, which has standards for voltage and current (mins & maxs) that are suitible for many different devices. For example, the iphone & blackberries both charge with USB.

The only problem will be in 50 years where we have even smaller and higher power chargers we could use but everyone uses the same charger form factor. This is aproblem today for LED Lights....they don't need the large plug but there is such a large isntalled base, it is hard to move to something smaller and easier to use in new fixtures. The large 'Edison' style socket that literally dates from Edison.

I guess 50 years of not building 51,000 tons of chargers would be a good thing.

Little known fact, edison actually enforced his patents on the lightbulb by using the design of the light socket. Anyone who wanted to make a bulb to use in the lights of the day had to pay a royalty to use that socket.



dell now has a wireless recharging station for one of their laptops. this wireless recharging is what should be looking at for a open system. i would love to have one recharging pad and be able to set all my gadgets on it at the same time.


First, I'm glad we no longer have redundant plugs. But the last comment, seriously, come on.

The greenhouse gases saved represent a fraction of a percentage of a fraction of a faction of a percentage of the the most miniscule slice of output. Furthermore, what relatively tiny amount is saved will probably be offset by other things. For example, will consumers or companies spend the money saved on items that have worse economic consequences? Will consumers get rid of perfectly old chargers so they can get the new universal one? So on and so forth.

There are reasons to celebrate this. Placing greenhouse gas savings on the top of the list is just silly.