One charger for all devices is coming – says European Commission

By Wesley Diphoko Time of article published Sep 25, 2021

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The European Commission has put forward legislation to establish a common charging solution for all relevant devices. It has done this to curb e-waste and to do away with consumer inconvenience, caused by the prevalence of different, incompatible chargers for electronic devices. According to a statement released by the Commission earlier this week the charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonised: USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and hand-held video game consoles. The statement indicated that this will improve consumers' convenience and reduce the environmental footprint associated with the production and disposal of chargers, thereby supporting the green and digital transitions.

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission’s A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, 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.”

The proposal include: a harmonised charging port for electronic devices. This means that USB-C will be the common port. This will allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB-C charger, regardless of the device brand. The proposal also includes harmonised fast charging technology which will help prevent that different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help to ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.

The days of getting a charger with each device will now come to an end as the Commission proposed unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device which means that consumers will be able to purchase a new electronic device without a new charger. The thinking is that this will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or left unused. This will also lead to the reduction of production and disposal of new chargers which is estimated to reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost a thousand tonnes' yearly. The Commission has also proposed improved information for consumers which will require producers to provide relevant information about charging performance, including information on the power required by the device and if it supports fast charging. It is believed that this will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet the requirements of their new device or help them to select a compatible charger. The Commission also believes that this would help consumers limit the number of new chargers they purchase and help them save €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.

This change will have a significant impact on Apple which remains one of the few companies with a different charger from other competitors.

The next stage will include adoption by the European Parliament and the Council by ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision). The transition period will take 24 months from the date of adoption which will give industry ample time to adapt before the entry into application.

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