On June 8, the European Union (EU) passed a provisional agreement to generalize USB type-C as the unique charger for electronic devices in the European Union. This agreement will take effect in fall 2024. Concretely, what will it change?
After a failed request in 2009, the European Commission finally succeeded in agreeing on the importance of instituting a common charger within the European Union. This change will oblige technological devices manufacturers, such as phones or tablets, to use the USB-C charging port for their future products.
This decision arises after a study led by Ipsos & Trinomics, that the European Commission called for in 2019. At that time, the paper revealed that 84% of mobile phone users “have experienced problems related to their phone chargers in the past two years”. The main problems encompassed the speed difference between some chargers, the unavailability of compatible chargers, as well as a confusion to find out which charger is compatible with a given device. At least one of these problems have caused “significant issues” to 15% to 20% of surveyed users.
Beside, the production of these chargers is problematic for environmental reasons. Manufacturing each different charger enhances a high use of raw materials, and generates a high CO2 emissions mainly because of transportation means. The study highlights that “mobile phone chargers are responsible for around 11,000 - 13,000 tonnes of e-waste per year”, or between 600 and 900 kt CO2e life cycle emissions. This helps explain the European Commission's urge to rethink the charger supply chains.
Hence, this provisional agreement aims to enable a “wider EU effort to make products in the EU more sustainable, reduce e-waste and make life easier for consumers”. This decision is also part of the European Green Deal, which establishes plans to follow to reach a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.
Here are the details, the new policy:
regards every smartphone, tablet, digital camera, headphone/earphone, portable video-game console, portable loudspeaker, e-reader, keyboard, mouse, and portable navigation device. Regarding laptops, they will have to comply with 40 months following the new legislation adoption.
aims at adapting to new technologies, notably in terms of portless charging solutions
prevents consumers from buying a charger when they buy a new device. This means that they will have the option to whether accept or decline having a new charger
What about Apple? Indeed, the brand did not manufacture smartphones relying on USB-C connection type. The latter was introduced in other devices, such as the 12in MackBook model in 2015 or the iPad Pro in 2018. Hence, this means that Apple - among other brands - will be compelled to spread the USB-C type to all its devices, which represent a substantial change in its corporate identity and supply chains. Let alone the amount of useless chargers that are to be accumulated after the policy passes. What will be the solutions to recycle them?
This provisional agreement is to be officially approved by the European Parliament and the Council, after the summer holidays. The policy is planned to come into effect 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. Also, it is to note that new devices placed on the market before the upcoming rules application date will not be affected.