updated 10/23/2009 11:20:55 AM ET 2009-10-23T15:20:55

The U.N. telecoms agency said Friday it has approved technology for a universal cell phone charger that aims to reduce the confusion, clutter and waste caused by today's proliferation of devices.

The new chargers will use a micro-USB plug, similar to that used for digital cameras, to enter the cell phone for charging, said Sarah Parkes, spokeswoman for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Some manufacturers may also allow the cable to be disconnected from the adapter at the plug-in end and inserted into a computer through a USB port instead. The power from the computer, however, would be smaller than from a wall socket and would take longer to charge a phone.

Some manufacturers already are using the new system, said Parkes. A number of companies have signed on to the new deal either with the ITU or earlier with the European Union.

Manufacturers won't legally be required to use the new standard, but in practice holdouts from ITU standards are rare, she said.

"Every mobile phone user will benefit from the new Universal Charging Solution," said the ITU, adding that the same charger could be used for all future handsets, regardless of make and model.

Parkes said it is likely to lead to a dramatic cut in the number of chargers produced, shipped and later discarded with each purchase of a new phone.

The new chargers also will reduce the energy consumed while charging, the ITU said.

It added that the new technology could lead to a 50 percent reduction in standby energy consumption and a cut of 13.6 million tons to greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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