Cell Phone Makers Go Green With Chargers

The companies have agreed to a common energy rating system that will enable customers to know which chargers are the most energy efficient.
The five major cell phone manufacturers launched Wednesday a common energy rating system for chargers that's designed to enable customers to choose the most energy-efficient charger.

The new rating system will be star-based, and it will show how much power chargers use when left plugged into the wall but disconnected from the phone. The ratings are based on the European Commission's energy standards for chargers, as well as the Energy Star standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The rating system was developed and will be supported by LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, and Sony Ericsson.

Customers will be able to visit each cell phone manufacturer's Web site to see and compare the results for every charger. The companies said that most consumers are unaware of much energy a charger uses when it's left plugged into a wall.

"If the more 3 three billion people owning mobile devices today switched to a four- or five-star charger, this could save the same amount of energy each year as produced by two medium-sized power plants," Nokia said in a statement.

The companies have been taking steps to help solve this problem, and they have made power chargers more energy efficient as well as implemented power-alert systems. Motorola said it has been able to reduce average standby energy use by at least 70% since 2000.

There's also a crop of new companies that are looking for alternative ways to charge a cell phone. M2E Power is working on a motion-powered charging product that could provide about 60 minutes of talk time after six hours of motion. Additionally, solar- and wind-powered chargers have also popped up.

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Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer