The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor of EU legislation that will standardize mobile chargers on USB Type-C, paving the way for law enforcement by the end of 2024.
MEPs have been pushing for the e-waste measure for more than a decade, so today’s overwhelmingly yes vote in plenary – of 602 in favor of the directive and just 13 against (plus 8 abstentions) – is hardly a shock.
Parliamentarians have also previously pushed for extend common shipper rules include more types of portable consumer electronics devices (including laptops).
The directive is not yet fully law. It still needs to be finally approved by the Council – but this step is considered a formality given the provisional political agreement already reached between the co-legislators this summer.
Once approved by the Council, the directive will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU and Member States will then have 12 months to transpose the rules – and 12 months after the end of the transposition period for apply them. So it looks set to start biting towards the end of 2024 – when all cellphones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will need to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port.
After that, there’s a second deadline – of spring 2026 – when the requirement extends to laptops.
Products released to the EU market before the directive’s effective date will fall outside the scope – so we’ll have to see if manufacturers rush to eliminate existing non-USB-C regional inventory by putting it on the market before the 2024 deadline.
There will also be plenty of eyes on what iPhone maker Apple is doing – and how quickly it’s embracing USB-C in its suite of mobiles – given that it’s been so strict about its charging standard. of proprietary smartphone (and all the dongles he can sell around the Lightning port).
“Regardless of their manufacturer, all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, earphones and headphones, portable video game consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earphones and rechargeable laptops via a wired cable, operating with a power of up to 100 Watts, must be equipped with a USB Type-C port”, writes the Parliament in a Press release.
“All devices that support fast charging will now have the same charging speed, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.”
MEPs also forced the Commission to tackle wireless charging interoperability in the near term – saying the EU executive will have to come up with a proposal to harmonize interoperability requirements for charging technology. by the end of 2024 as adoption of wireless charging increases (and to ensure that manufacturers don’t just swap out proprietary charging ports for proprietary wireless charging technology, generating a new e-waste fire hose).
The EU expects common charger obligations to lead to greater reuse of chargers, reducing the environmental impact of consumer electronics purchases while helping buyers save up to 250M€ per year on purchases of unnecessary chargers.
Another part of the directive obliges device manufacturers to apply dedicated labels that inform consumers about the charging characteristics of new devices, with the aim of making it easier for them to see if their existing chargers are compatible.
The idea behind the labeling requirement is that consumers can make an informed choice about whether or not to purchase a new charger with a new product. However, there will surely be a risk that uncertain consumers will buy a new charger “just in case” – generating new unnecessary charger e-waste – and/or be pressured into buying another charger by shark retailers spotting an opportunity to generate additional revenue.
Currently, on the e-waste front, discarded and unused chargers annually account for approximately 11,000 tonnes of electronic waste in the EU, according to the Commission. It will therefore be interesting to see if there is a real reduction in e-waste resulting from the directive or more complex impacts.
Increased interoperability between different gadgets could actually increase the consumption of wearable electronics by creating greater demand for expanded utility. But we can probably all agree that unused chargers that spend their lives intact and fresh before being thrown away are a particularly sad type of e-waste.
Europe’s push for a common charger creates a certain reflective attraction elsewhere.
This summera trio of US lawmakers have taken to the EU directive to pressure America to follow suit and adopt a common USB-C charger standard by 2024.