From next year, all mobile phones sold in the EU will fit the same phone charger.
Major manufacturers including Apple, Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, NEC, Research in Motion, Samsung and LG have signed up to a voluntary EU agreement to create a common charger based on the mini-USB connector.
Currently there are more than 30 different types of charger circulating in Europe, with an estimated 51,000 unused.
Companies were pressured into the agreement with the threat of legal action.
The launch of a common charger follows years of campaigning by consumer groups and environmental activists.
Gunter Verheugen, EU industry commissioner, said: “I am very pleased the industry has found an agreement, which will make life much simpler for consumers.
“They will be able to charge mobile phones anywhere from the new common charger.
“This also means considerably less electronic waste because people will no longer have to throw away chargers when buying new phones.”
Malcolm Harbour, MEP and consumer spokesperson for the Conservative party, added: “The days of drawers full of useless old mobile phone chargers will soon be over. Common sense has prevailed.
“This agreement will encourage more chargers to be recycled, preventing electronic waste.
“Mobile phone companies should consider whether a new charger is now needed with every handset if there is a possibility that an old one can be recycled.”