A pilot by network O2 of selling the HTC One X+ without a charger found most buyers were happy without one. Photograph: HTC
O2 has urged its industry peers to stop giving away chargers with new mobile phones, after a trial found the vast majority of customers were happy to buy handsets without chargers.
The telecom giant yesterday announced the results of a three-month pilot scheme, which saw it sell HTC One X+ handsets without the USB chargers they usually come with, but still with a detachable USB cable.
O2 had expected 70 per cent of customers would be happy to take the greener option as most people already have a compatible charger at home. Anyone wanting an additional charger could buy one at cost price.
In fact, 82 per cent of One X+ customers agreed to buy the handset on its own since the trial started in October, exceeding O2's expectations.
O2 believes there could be 100 million unused chargers in people's homes and offices, enough to fill four Olympic-sized swimming pools if thrown away.
The company now estimates there would be 24 million fewer charges sold in the UK each year if the results of its pilot were applied to the 30 million new phones sold annually.
Ronan Dunne, chief executive of O2, urged other mobile retailers to follow its lead and pledge to phase out the automatic inclusion of chargers at the point of sale.
"The results of the trial demonstrate a clear willingness among consumers to consider and respond to the environmental argument for taking a phone charger-free," he said. "I now hope that as a result of this study the rest of the industry will now consider joining us in our campaign to take chargers out of the box for good."
Last year, O2 pledged to phase out mobile phone chargers for all new phones by 2015, as part of a broad new sustainability programme. At that time, Bill Eyres, O2 head of sustainability, predicted just 60 per cent of people would be prepared to buy a charger-free phone.
However, the results show people are receptive to the idea of reducing electronic waste, if they are given the right information.
"These trial results offer powerful evidence that customers are prepared to amend their purchasing decisions if they have more choice and more information," added Dunne.
"The lesson for the industry from this pilot is that consumers are very receptive to the message that they can benefit the environment by avoiding the needless purchase of chargers. I would now like to see others taking similar steps, working with us as we aim to ensure all our handsets are sold charger-free by 2015."
In 2009, leading mobile phone makers, including Samsung and Apple, signed an EU resolution to create a single universal charger, based on a micro USB connector by January 2012, in an effort to reduce unnecessary waste.
However, Apple appears to have backtracked on the pledge, introducing its own new Lightning Charger for the iPhone5 last year.