"Your Phone is Charged. Please Unplug Your Charger Now"

Thanks to the decision of a mobile industry task force led by Nokia, you might be hearing these words from your cell phone next year. The members of the task force, a project of the European Commission (EC), agreed to include audio alerts on the cell phones they make that will remind people to unplug their charger once a phone is fully charged (remember, this was your TreeHugger homework late last year). According to the final report, If 10 percent of the world's cell phone owners did this, it would reduce energy consumption by an amount equivalent to that used by 60,000 European homes per year. The initiative is part of a pilot project by the environmental agency of the EC intended to encourage industries to "reduce the environmental impact of their products throughout their lifecycle." Groups from various industries looked at everything from raw materials to manufacturing processes to the effects of product decomposition."We are quite happy with this first approach, though obviously we would like to go deeper. We will issue a report on what has born fruit from this and we will look at, in a year from now, the results. This is an ongoing process and hopefully other companies will come on board," said Barbara Helfferich, a spokesperson on the environment for the Commission.

In addition to adding the "unplug" alerts to their phones, the mobile group committed to voluntarily eliminating or reducing the amount of common nasties in electronics, including certain flame retardants, heavy metals and phthalates used in cell phones; further commitments included phone recycling incentives and posting "eco-fact" listings of a product's environmental impact.

Nokia is moving on the project, announcing that it will have the alerts in place on its phones by the middle of 2007. Other companies that participated in the EC mobile task force, whose research spanned two years, include AMD, Epson, France Telecom/Orange, Intel, Motorola, Panasonic, Teliasonera, and Vodafone; we'll be interested to see if anyone else follows suit.

It might be easier to crank up your phone, but since wind-powered charging and solar-powered phones aren't a reality for everybody, this is a pretty good first step. ::ZDNet via linton at ::Hugg