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Europe Closing in on Phone Charger Singularity

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"Hey, does anyone have an iPhone charger?"

About once a month, you may hear that question -- or one of its many variants -- being bellowed at work three cubicles down. And the problem doesn't often lie with fellow coworkers not having a spare phone charger, but merely having the wrong one. Micro-USB, Mini-USB, DC-4, Apple's format, or countless others -- all incompatible with one another.

But last June, 14 of the biggest phone manufacturers agreed to settle upon a unified standard. Now, it looks like the process is almost complete.

Unfortunately, it's just in Europe for now.

According to the Daily Mail, the manufacturers -- which include Apple, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and Research in Motion -- are underway to put the universal Micro-USB charger into production "almost immediately." The move will not only free up space in your dresser, but will decrease the number of obsolete phone chargers accumulating in landfills.

Antonio Tajani, European Commissioner for industry and entrepreneurship, had this to say about the measure:

"I am very happy that the European Standardisation Bodies have met our request to develop within a short space of time the technical standards necessary for a common mobile phone charger. Now it is time for industry to show its commitment to sell mobile phones for the new charger. The common charger will make life easier for consumers, reduce waste, and benefit businesses. It is a true win-win situation."

Estimates put the amount of duplicate chargers manufactured every year at around 51,000 tons. The new Micro-USB charger -- according to the Global System For Mobile Communications Association -- will consume 50% less standby energy than current models.

Let's hope similar initiatives are taken across the pond shortly.
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