We have all been there, you upgrade or change your smart phone and need all the new accessories that work with it, including a new charger. This not only gets expensive; it also results in a drawer full of old chargers and what about the impact on the environment this is having?
Well, things are set to change. In September 2021, the EU proposed a new rule that manufacturers will be forced to create a universal solution for phones and small electronic devices.
The aim of this is to reduce waste of these plastic charging devices and encourage users to reuse them, however Apple are disagreeing, and have warned such a move would harm innovation.
The tech firm told the BBC “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” They did however add that they aim to be carbon neutral by 2030.
The most common charging connecters currently are Type C USB, Micro USB and Lightning.
Most Android phones already come with USB micro-B charging ports or have moved to the more modern USB-C standard.
Latest models of the iPad and MacBook Pro use USB-C charging ports, as well as phone models Samsung and Huawei.
The changes would apply to the charging port on the device body, whereas the end of the cable connecting to a plug could be USB-C or USB-A.
Around half of chargers sold with mobile phones in the European Union in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29% had a USB C connector and 21% a Lightning connector, a Commission impact assessment study in 2019 found.
The proposed rules will apply to:
• Portable speakers
• Handheld video game consoles
Other products like fitness trackers and smart watches considered for technical reasons linked to use and size.
It is estimated that over 11,000 tonnes of waste per year are made up of unused charging cables, which in itself, is terrifying.
Within the European Union around 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the last year and the average person owns around three mobile phone chargers.
Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight says: "Having one common charging standard would be a victory for common sense in the eyes of consumers, although Apple has made a strong argument for keeping its Lightning connector, given the one billion active iPhone users, some of its products including Mac and iPad now support USB-C. Hopefully it will eventually become a non-issue if Apple keeps adding USB-C to more devices."
The new law is expected to come into place in 2022 and manufacturers will have 24 months to implement the new charging ports.
Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager added - "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"
Sources: BBC News / Apple