Are Those Mobile Chargers Included With Phones Really Needed? Survey Says 'No'

You know those cute little white cubes that ship with pretty much every iPod touch, iPhone and iPad? Those are charging blocks, with a simply USB slot in there that's used for charging just about any portable device on the planet. And for years now, something similar has been shipping with -- you guessed it -- pretty much every portable device on the planet. Over time, most gadget hounds have amassed quite the collection of these charging cubes, and considering that many of those very hounds also use the USB sockets on their laptops as chargers -- well, you have to wonder how many of those cubes are going unused on a daily basis.

Turns out, network operator O2 and handset maker HTC did indeed wonder, and now they're reporting on the results. Over the past few months, HTC has sold the One X+ in O2 markets without a power adapter. Folks who received a Kindle Fire over Christmas may have noticed that Amazon is also leaving that out of the box, both to save on costs and shave the price of devices down to the end user. And then, of course, there's the green aspect, as each phone sold without a charging block dings the environment that much less. Since the “Charger out of the Box” pilot was launched in October, 82% of those who bought the charger-free handset did not buy a separate charger for it – exceeding O2’s target of 70%. The pilot, the first of its kind in the world, offers the HTC One X+ handset with just the USB-to-micro-USB connection lead with the phone (although if customers do want a charger with their new handset, they are able to purchase one at cost price).

There are 30 million new phones sold in the UK each year. If the results of this pilot were repeated with all handsets, there would be 24 million chargers fewer sold annually in the UK – a huge environmental saving, not to mention the savings on cost.

Research by O2 suggests there are as many as 100 million unused chargers in total in the UK that are either duplicates of existing kit or are from old handsets.  These have already had a huge environmental cost:
  •     A total of 18,700 tonnes 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
So, what about you? Do you have a bunch of those charges sitting around idle?