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If you’re tired of managing different charging cables, relief may be on the way — at least in Europe. After giving the consumer electronics industry 10 years to propose their own solution, the European Union is pushing forward plans to standardize all charging ports to USB-C. Enacting a common charger across mobile phones, cameras, headphones, speakers, and more would serve two goals.
- First, waste reduction. Electronic waste (aka, e-waste) is the fastest growing waste stream in the E.U. with less than 40% recycled. And disposal of the unused chargers results in roughly 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually.
- Second, increase consumer convenience. European consumers spend €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases. The proposal not only limits the number of chargers needed, but also ensures consumers can easily determine the correct charger through simple labeling of power requirements.
Why USB-C? In 2009, the major consumer electronics companies agreed to move towards a common charging standard. Since then, the number of charger options available have reduced from 30 to three: USB-C (used by 29% of European consumers), Apple’s Lightning (used by 21%), and micro USB standard (used by roughly half). Of these options, USB-C was ultimately chosen for its wide adoption (nearly all Android devices) and support of the latest technology standards.
Apple, whose devices are fitted with the proprietary Lightning port, has spoken up in opposition, claiming it stifles innovation. However, the European Commission argues that the current proposal is built with the flexibility needed for innovation to remain uninterrupted. For example, the proposal does not enforce any rules on wireless charging options — a major focus for future Apple products. The plan also leaves room for the industry to work together towards a replacement to USB-C as the standard when and if the time comes.
If approved by Parliament, companies would have 24 months to fully adopt the new norm. And by the end of year, lawmakers hope to also address the power supply end of the cable, providing a full cable solution.
Take the time to fully understand what the European Commission is proposing by reading their incredibly helpful Q&A section on the full plan.
- TechCrunch (Where we found this story) 6 days old | 8 minutes long
- How To Geek USB-C explained 3 years old | 6 minutes long
- The Verge Additional details & Apple’s response 6 days old | 7 minutes long
- European Commission Data on e-waste in Europe 6 months old | 5 minutes long
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Art Credit: Below the Fold