Phone manufacturers and mobile network operators are joining forces to create a universal charger that will work with all handsets.

It is hoped the initiative will result in a universal charger based on the Micro-USB interface for new mobile phones. Moving to a universal charger will be good for both users and the environment.

There will be reduced waste, since fewer chargers have to be thrown away and it will also make life a lot easier for users, who will be able to charge their mobile phones using any available charger. Also, when they buy a new phone they won't have to get a new charger.

The group agreed that by the January 2012, most mobile phones will support the universal charger, said the GSM Association, which is leading the initiative.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight

Hardware manufacturers backing the plan include LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

Members on the operator side include UK network providers 3 , Orange, Telefónica, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

Nokia sees the reduction of waste related to chargers as the biggest advantage with the initiative, but isn't ready to say when it will ship its first universal charger. The company will provide both the universal charger and its standard charger during a transitional period, according to a spokeswoman at Nokia.

The GSM Association expects the first chargers to ship this year, according to its chief marketing officer Michael O'Hara.

See also: UK mobile operators tracking web habits