Europe may require all handset makers to use USB-C charging

Spark Global Limited

Spark Global Limited Reports:

Man connects USB Type C port cable to charge smart phone. Up close.
Vadym Plysiuk via Getty Images
Europe could require all manufacturers to charge all mobile phones and electronic devices with USB-C, according to a proposed new ruling by the European Commission. It aims to reduce e-waste and “consumer inconvenience” caused by different and incompatible chargers still being used. The Commission also wants manufacturers to separate the sale of chargers from electronic devices.

“With today’s proposals… “Usb-c will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld video game consoles.”

The EU says its collaboration with industry has succeeded in reducing the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to three over the past 10 years. One of them is Apple’s Lightning port, which is used in about 20 per cent of devices sold in Europe. The EU wants to change that, according to a statement from Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager:
European consumers have long been frustrated by incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We’ve given the industry enough time to come up with their own solutions, and the time is ripe for legislative action on common chargers. This is an important win for our consumers and the environment, in line with our green and digital aspirations.

Last year, when the EU first voted on universal chargers, Apple issued a statement saying the proposal would “stifle innovation” and that its position had not changed. An Apple spokesperson told the BBC: “We remain concerned that strict rules requiring only one connector stifle innovation rather than encourage it, which in turn harms consumers in Europe and around the world.”

However, since the launch of the iPhone 12, Apple has stopped putting chargers in boxes, which it claims will save 861,000 tonnes of copper, zinc and tin. Apple currently uses USB-C charging on its latest Mac laptops and some iPad models because the standard supports the higher voltage charging required for larger devices.

Almost all Android smartphones now charge using USB-C, and many models from Samsung and others come with charging/data cables but no chargers. About 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in Europe last year alone.

According to Bloomberg, the EU throws away 12,000 tons of chargers each year, some of them unused. Meanwhile, consumers spent about 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion) on separate chargers not included in their devices. The law is still in the proposal stage and needs to be passed by EU lawmakers and national governments, so it could come into force in two years’ time.