by Carlo Longino

Phone Companies Agree On Environmental Friendliness, Or At Least A Press Release About It

from the now-with-53%-less-waste dept

There's been a growing trend for companies to "go green" for some time, with more and more companies announcing plans to make their products or processes more environmentally friendly. Today, a group of mobile-phone companies said they'd work together to make their products better for the environment by increasing recycling, decreasing the use of toxic and harmful materials, and attacking one of the environmental bugbears of just about any tech company: energy consumption. In this area, the companies say they'll take action by "equipping phones with reminders to unplug chargers once the battery is recharged", and say if just 10% of mobile phone users heeded the reminders, enough energy would be saved to power 60,000 European homes each year. That's all well and good, and these companies deserve some kudos for taking steps, no matter how small, but seeing as how they're technology companies, couldn't they maybe come up with some technology to help solve the problem, rather than just taking the path of least effort and changing the "battery charged" message phones already display? Why not change the way chargers work so they shut themselves off in some way, or find some other actual solution, instead of just displaying a relatively useless message that few users will probably see, or heed, anyway? As said above, it's great that companies take steps to alleviate the environmental impact of their products -- but it's even better when those steps are actually meaningful.

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  • identicon
    Lay Person, 21 Sep 2006 @ 10:09am

    Stupid is as stupid does

    Yeah, they ought to make the phone go into minimum mode (shut off all items except the receiver) when on standby. That way the battery can last 3 times longer!
    Also, yeah...have the charger and phone communicate each other's status with one another kinda like a UPS does with a computer. This way they can charge intelligently.

    Naturally this would raise costs initially though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous of Course, 21 Sep 2006 @ 10:34am


    Sounds impressive at first, but

    The average European home consumes 4667 kWh
    So 60,000 homes would consume 280,020,00 KWh.
    Thus the estimated 600M cell phones in the EU are
    wasting 0.467 KWh per year or 0.053W ?

    Turn off a lamp or something... geez.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous of course, 21 Sep 2006 @ 10:36am

    I missed the 10% but its' still lame.

    If I account for the 10% of users saving energy
    enough for 60,000 homes it would be 10 times
    as much or 0.53W still no big woopie.

    Turn off that damn yard light...'k?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2006 @ 12:20pm

    I charge my phone overnight while I sleep.

    Like I'm gunna wake up to unplug it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2006 @ 1:07pm

      Re: A.C.'s comment

      "I charge my phone overnight while I sleep."

      How true! My phone (and headset) get hooked up to charge at night while I am sleeping. I suspect VERY few people would ever be around to see the notice that it is fully charged.

      A better idea would be making phones that DON'T DRAW POWER from the plug after they are charged! And as has been said before, get rid of the stupid "standby" mode that some new electronics have -- it wastes almost as much power as being on! Some of these new devices don't even have an OFF setting anymore, just a standby one -- you have to unplug them if you want to save power!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sean, 21 Sep 2006 @ 2:29pm

    Its not having the phone pluged in that just draws power but the actual plug if it is left plugged in with the phone not hooked up it still draws a small amount of current waisting energy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AMP, 21 Sep 2006 @ 3:07pm


    I would think that the recycling of the phones would be a much bigger issue???
    Certainly reducing power consumption is good, but I can't imagine how many old cell phones there are out there. I have 4 old ones at home and I am not even a big gadget guy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sohrab, 21 Sep 2006 @ 3:36pm

    omg. this is what I dont get. WHY cant the freaking phone or PSP or laptop or whatever stop the flow to the battery, once its charged. Why is this such a hard concept?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2006 @ 4:06pm


      its such a hard concept because it does stop once its charged. however, the battery then starts draining slowly thereby telling the charger it needs to be charged again, drawing the current, stopping, then repeating.

      at least understand what you're talking about.

      the only way to do it is to have it turn off the charging and actually completely break the circuit and not allowing it to charge again until the user does something (presses a button, unplugs and plugs it back in, etc.), but then there's the problem about people using the phone *while* its plugged in. therefore, you *wouldn't* want it to turn off then, so then it'd have to detect whether its in use or not, etc, etc, etc.

      its solvable, but not as simple as people think.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 21 Sep 2006 @ 4:55pm

    lock Keypad?

    All 'phones now have keylocks, so all that would need to be done would be to turn of everything except the reciever (turn off the screen backlight) when the keypad is locked. When charging my phone (which is a POS), it can be done either turned on or off, but still used the screen to show the carging process. When the 'phone is off, the screen should be turned off until a button is pressed, and the carger cut-off can operate. When the 'phone is on it should behave as normal. This would all save more power than some stupid message.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Myself, 22 Sep 2006 @ 6:41am

    The waste is real, the mechanism different.

    The phone DOES stop the flow of charging current to the battery when the charge is complete. That's what a charge control circuit does, and without that action, the battery wouldn't last very long at all. Whether it would fail from electrolyte loss, or whether it would simply explode from overcharging, depends on the battery's construction and the charger's output. I'm betting on the latter, since they're all lithium-based chemistries and charge control is *extremely* important to prevent a little phenomenon known as "venting with flame". Look it up.

    The energy waste they're talking about is the "phantom load" (another term you should look up) presented by the wall-wart when there's no phone connected to it. Ever notice that, even with no phone plugged in, the brick keeps itself a little above ambient temperature? That's a watt or two, 24/7, that you don't need to spend. Classic phantom load. Simply unplugging the charger WILL make a difference, and reminding users to do it MIGHT make them more proactive about other phantom loads.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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