EU Proposes Introduction of Universal Phone Charger
The EU Commission is putting forward legislation to introduce a universal charging port for all mobile phones and other electronic devices. The Commission is describing the proposal as an important step in the elimination of e-waste and consumer inconvenience.
The need to alleviate e-waste from chargers was first highlighted by the Commission in 2009 when a voluntary agreement was facilitated with industry that resulted in the reduction of the number of existing charging solutions for mobile phones on the market from 30 to 3. A further proposal by industry in March 2018 was not considered satisfactory by the Commission in delivering a common charging solution.
Under the proposal USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand.
Harmonised fast charging technology will help prevent different producers unjustifiably limiting the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.
Consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. Reducing production and disposal of new chargers is estimated to reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost a thousand tonnes yearly.
Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager said, “European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We gave 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.”
Today’s proposal for a revised Radio Equipment Directive will now need to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council by ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision). A transition period of 24 months from the date of adoption will give industry ample time to adapt before the entry into application.
In 2020, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU. On average, consumers own around three mobile phone chargers, of which they use two on a regular basis. Disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to pile up to 11,000 tonnes of e-waste every year.
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