In the face of opposition from Apple, the European Commission has proposed using of a single charger connector for all mobile phones, tablets, and headphones.
According to an 18-page guideline issued recently, a universal charger for all manufacturers “would benefit customers and decrease electronic waste,” the Commission said.
It is expected to that EU customers will be able to save €250 million every year from this move.
According to the proposed new regulation, all devices will be required to adopt USB-C connectors, which are presently used primarily by Android powered phones.
That would mean iPhone maker Apple would be compelled to install USB-C connectors in the EU countries for all its gadgets that utilise lightning connections.
After the law goes into effect, there will be a two-year transition period during which producers must adapt to the new standard.
Apple has objected.
“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,” Apple said in a statement.
The company also has reservations about the two year period being proposed for companies to complete the transition.
The proposal has been supported by the commission vice-president, Margrethe Vestager.
“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,” she said.
Apple uses “proprietary charging interfaces” under the current system in the EU. This arrangement does not allow full interoperability, says the new directive. The directive also says that the arrangement by Apple also ignores the “environmental issues arising from the continued existence of those different charging interfaces.”
Considering the technical advantages that can be derived from the introduction of the USB-C interface, there is no longer any justification for the “proprietary solutions” of Apple, says the directive.
The directive also makes clear that Apple has resisted this change. It however did not name Apple.
“Those manufacturers that have invested heavily in proprietary charging technology appear less keen, since the high charging performance of their bundled phones and EPS [external power supply] is an important part of their marketing strategy,” the directive says.
“This directive aims to reduce the e-waste generated by the sale of radio equipment and to reduce the extraction of raw materials and the CO2 emissions generated by the production, transportation and disposal of chargers, thereby promoting a circular economy,” it adds.
A 2019 Commission study shows that a USB micro-B connector was present in half the chargers sold with mobile phones in 2018, while a USB-C connector was in 29% of the phones and lightning connector came with 21% of the phones sold.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)