Sun Sep 26 2021
An upcoming EU vote will reduce waste and save us money… but Apple says it will stifle innovation
The EU have announced they’re going to be pushing forward with legislation to require all mobile phone manufacturers to use a standardised USB-C cable as a universal charging option on phones, tablets and a variety of other devices.
The new legislation would also require chargers be sold separately from devices instead of bundled up as they currently are as, whilst mobile phones tend to stop working… most chargers are still fine at the point of upgrade, causing unnecessary wastage.
The new legislation is designed to reduce the amount of e-waste caused by unwanted or unneeded chargers (currently estimated at about 11-13 kilo tonnes per year and 600-900 kilo tonnes of CO2 emissions according to European Commission research).
It’s estimated the average consumer, whilst likely only needing one, currently possesses at least three mobile charging devices.
Back in 2018, about half of all chargers sold in the EU came with a USB micro-B charger, with 29% using a USB-c charger and 21% using Lightning.
Changing those % to all USB-C could save European consumers up to €250 million each year.
It’s not just smartphones that would be affected however, the legislation would also cover tablets, digital cameras, headphones, portable speakers and any handheld video game consoles sold in the EU.
However smaller devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers or earphones would still be exempt.
MEP’s have been pushing this through for over a decade now so the announcement the legislation is nearly here should come as no surprise but some mobile device manufacturers, notably Apple, are still pushing back.
Their efforts have decreased the number of charging options available from thirty in 2009 to just three today, USB-C, USB micro-B and Apple’s Lightning but progress towards a true universal standard has stalled, with the industry (Apple) refusing to reach the 100% mark.
Apple have once again rejected the direction the EU are pushing the industry, releasing a statement to say:
We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world.
However, the Vice President of the EC, Margrethe Vestager, hit back at that, accusing the industry of dragging its feet.
We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions
For this to become law the EU will need to hold a vote for all member states. If it passes it will then become a Directive which will give all member states two years to convert it into national law.
From there, mobile manufacturers can either support two standards, creating one set of devices for the EU and another for the rest of the world… or finally accept a universal charger.
Sun Sep 26 2021