It’s been discussed for years, and fortunately it will have taken time, but the European Union has officially voted in favor of the law which will oblige all manufacturers of mobile electronic devices from autumn 2024 to adopt the USB-C port as a charging method.
We say “fortunately it will have taken time” since when this discussion started within the European Commission, it was a question of imposing the “micro USB” standard which would never have been sufficient for the task of recharging quickly mobile devices like the latest tablets, portable game consoles or even the biggest cordless phones.
And that is, moreover, the main criticism that we hear these days about this new European standard: that it too quickly becomes obsolete in its turn and that it has the opposite effect than what it is supposed to do, and therefore causes an increase in the level of e-waste produced by the tech business model these days.
You will have understood that the biggest critic of this new law is Apple, which will have to change the connector of its iPhone and some of its accessories, called the Lightning port, for a USB-C port, which does not really his business. Apple thinks it would have been more appropriate to pass a law that imposes a goal, rather than a standard. For example, to eliminate chargers in the boxes of new products, without necessarily imposing the USB-C standard.
Concretely, this amounts to saying that sellers of mobile devices will no longer have to include a cable in the box for their charging, since the objective is precisely to reduce their number to a strict minimum.
In Europe, it is calculated that this measure could eliminate up to 11,000 tons of electronic waste per year, which represents the total volume of discarded or unused chargers sold each year in its territory.
Obviously, we could have gone much further and imposed a waste reduction target for the entire mobility sector, which might have helped to reduce the oh so much more irritating phenomenon of planned obsolescence. But maybe that will be for next time.
We will also have to see if this European law will be taken up by us. It’s not sure. Especially since the impact of this law could be global.
In other words, don’t throw away your old chargers too quickly, they could still be used for a long time…