MARCH 2009

Technology makes environmentally responsible battery chargers possible

Supporting objectives to reduce the number of battery chargers discarded with portable devices such as cellphone handsets, GPS receivers and personal media players, STMicroelectronics has introduced improved smaller-dimension circuit-protection devices to enable safer use of universal chargers.

With 1 billion cell phone handsets, or more, expected to be shipped in 2010, initiatives such as the Chinese government’s requirement for mobile devices to provide a USB port for charging may reduce the environmental burden of many millions of battery chargers. Dedicated chargers typically become useless when the accompanying portable devices reach end of life. At best they may be sent for recycling, but most often they may be disposed of incorrectly or simply kept in a drawer performing no useful function. In any case, demand for a new charger with every new portable device effectively increases the environmental impact of the global consumer-electronics industry.

Due to these and other factors, 17 wireless operators and cellular handset manufacturers have agreed to standardize chargers by 2012 for most cell phones shipped.

The manufacturers include AT&T, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Vodafone, among others, with iPhone-maker Apple conspicuously absent from the list.