USB-C to become common EU charging port

The USB-C connector is set to become the common charging port for mobile phones, tablets, and headphones in the EU under a new European Commission (EC) proposal.

The EC claims the move will have environmental benefits and save consumers $293 million.
Apple’s iPhone will be impacted - which currently uses its own “Lightning” charger - as well as cameras, portable speakers, and handheld videogame consoles.

The move, which has been in the works for over ten years, still requires approval from EU member states and EU lawmakers.

The new rules aren’t set to impact wireless charging, and earbuds, smartwatches, and fitness trackers will not be subject to the move due their smaller size.

Apple has robustly opposed the move so far claiming it is “concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it” and that it will impact its ability to roll out more energy efficient products.

As of 2018, 29 per cent of chargers sold with phones in the EU had a USB C connector, while around half had a USB B connector, and 21 per cent used Apple’s Lightning connector according to an EC survey.

The EC said the EU disposes of 11,000 tonnes of chargers every year, and it estimates the proposed rules will reduce that by around 1,000 tonnes.

The legislative proposal is set to be debated by the European Parliament and national governments, where MEPs and member states can suggest amendments to the proposal.

If the rules are made law, which the EC is targeting for 2022, manufacturers will have 24 months adjust their charging ports.

The industry has already seen rapid consolidation in terms of the number of chargers used by consumers; in 2009 there were over 30 different mobile chargers in use.

“European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers,” said 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.”

She added: “This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions.”

“With more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary,” said EU industry chief Thierry Breton. “We are putting an end to that.”

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