New adapter to reduce annual e-waste by 300,000 tonnes

Computing

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations ICT regulatory agency, has approved a universal charging solution for mobile devices capable of reducing e-waste called the Universal Power Adapter (UPA).

The ITU approved the first stage of the UPA technical standard for use in devices such as modems, set-top boxes, home networking equipment and fixed telephones expected to enable energy savings.

The approval will benefit countries not well equipped with reliable AC power grids as it is designed for compatibility with standalone AC produced by renewable energy sources inclusive of 5V and 12V power interfaces of solar energy.

According to Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré, the ITU’s Secretary General, their global standard for the universal phone chargers was well received from vendors and consumers and the new universal adapter will claim the same accolades.

“These important environmentally-oriented standards will markedly reduce e-waste and greenhouse gas emissions, while saving money for vendors and consumers through more efficient use of raw materials and energy,” he said.

Dubbed ‘ITU-T L.1001’, it is expected to reduce the number of power adapters that need to be manufactured by widening the range of compatible devices, facilitating adapter re-use and recycling, in turn increasing build-quality and resilience to over-voltages.

New ITU standard will drive substantial reductions in energy consumption used in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), equipment manufacture and limit device duplication.

Meanwhile, a study out by a University of Genoa has estimated that the widespread adoption of an energy-efficient UPA solution will eliminate nearly 300,000 tonnes of e-waste annually.

The study further shows UPA could reduce the energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of external power supplies by between 25 and 50 per cent.

The UPA is designed for ICT devices in people’s homes, and provide a low-voltage input to a device by converting the AC mains voltage to a low-voltage DC output.

Future capabilities could include compatibility with a DC interface from renewable energy systems or power sockets found in transportation systems like boats, trains, planes, buses.