Orange has announced that it has become the first European mobile operator to introduce mini SIM cards.

With the potential for slight confusion, the actual SIM cards are the same size as any other SIMs - and would in fact need to be to fit in handsets - but it's the packaging that's the "mini" part.

An introduction aimed at reducing the amount of waste produced when customers receive new SIMs, the plastic surrounding the pop-out SIM has been halved.

Orange says in 2008 more than 2.9 billion SIM cards weighing 11,600 tonnes were shipped to mobile operators across the globe in 2008, so in theory this figure could be greatly reduced if everyone adopted the two SIMs to one credit card-sized piece of plastic.

The Orange trial of the mini SIM cards has begun with select pay-monthly customers and in future will be extended to cover all new SIMs.