EU plan for “common charger” could mean a significant headache for Apple
But good news for consumers.
The EU is aiming to introduce a "common charger" for phones and other portable electronics.
On Wednesday (23 September), the European Commission announced it is now putting forward legislation to make USB-C the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles.
This would allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand.
Also as part of the proposal, the commission is aiming to unbundle the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device, meaning consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger.
This is to limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused.
It said putting forward the legislation was an important step against e-waste and consumer inconvenience.
The commission noted that in 2020, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU and that on average, consumers own around three mobile phone chargers, two of which they use on a regular basis.
Despite this, 38% of consumers reported experiencing problems whereby they could not charge their mobile phone because available chargers were incompatible.
Meanwhile, disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to pile up to 11,000 tonnes of e-waste every year.
Are your chargers piling up in a drawer?
We propose a common charger for mobile phones and other similar electronic devices.
A single charger will be more convenient for people and will reduce electronic waste.
Read more: https://t.co/hkspfjwlhu #DigitalEU pic.twitter.com/ZhWZ8xSGKH
— European Commission 🇪🇺 (@EU_Commission) September 23, 2021
The commission has supported a common charging solution for mobile phones and similar electronic devices since 2009.
It said that while years of working with the industry on a voluntary approach already brought down the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to three within the last decade, so far a complete solution has not been delivered.
“European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers," the European Commission’s Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
"We gave the 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.”
The proposal will now go to the European Parliament and if passed, the industry will have a transition period of two years to adapt to the new standards.
The news could be an issue in particular for Apple as its iPhones are charged through a lightning cable.
You can read more about the European Commission's proposal here.