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U.K. carrier O2 makes push for nixing phone chargers

The company argues that the end of bundling micro-USB chargers with every phone purchase would aid the environment.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
The HTC One X+.
The HTC One X+. CBS Interactive

U.K. carrier O2 is making a push for smartphone companies to stop bundling chargers in the box.

Earlier this week, O2 released a study that found that 82 percent of customers who bought the HTC One X+ over the last three months walked out of the store without buying a charger, despite the fact that a charger didn't come in the box. The company's test has led it to continue its mission of phasing out chargers in mobile phones it sells by 2015 and to urge its competitors to do the same.

"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," O2 CEO Ronan Dunne told Guardian in an interview published yesterday. "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."

Many handsets today ship with a universal micro-USB port and charger to match it. As customers buy more products, those USB chargers start to pile up, despite a single charger being capable of connecting to any handset using the port. O2 argues that the U.K. is overrun with unused USB chargers -- as many as 100 million -- that could actually be used on other products. Why include a charger in a box, then, when folks might have a few already at home?

O2 is by no means the only organization that has called for an end to unnecessary charger distribution. In 2011, the European Union moved forward on plans to reduce electronic waste by forcing companies to use a universal charger. That would result in fewer companies bundling chargers, thus reducing waste and helping the environment.

Although several vendors, including Nokia, HTC, and RIM, support micro-USB ports in their products, Apple most notably does not. Since the iPhone's launch, Apple has used a proprietary charging Dock port that's incompatible with micro-USB. Last year, Apple launched a new Lightning port to replace its previous connector. That move came approximately three years after the company agreed to support a universal charger by January 2012. It appears that for now, that isn't happening.