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EU wants to standardise chargers

Byte-size Bulletin by Simon Heath in News on Sep 30, 2021


How many chargers and cables do you have to carry around? Would you like it to be fewer and your charging to be faster? The European Commission is trying to make that happen for you.

On 23 September 2021, the European Commission proposed that electronic devices meet a common standard. They intend to legislate so that smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld games can all be recharged using a USB-C port.

They argue this is a victory for common sense, the consumer and the environment. For a decade they have been seeking a voluntary agreement and reduced the number of different phone chargers from 30 to 3. A common charger would save consumers €250 million a year and reduce e-waste by almost 1,000 tonnes annually.

These are the measures they are proposing:

  • Harmonise the charging port and fast charging technology.
  • Unbundle the sale of chargers from devices.
  • Clearer manufacturer information on what chargers are compatible.

It is a pretty well-established idea in IT that standardisation helps reduce complexity, support costs, downtime and improves flexibility and redundancy. However, the debate rumbles on.

Apple has forcefully argued against it, saying it would stifle innovation. The directive will be debated before its possible introduction in 2022. Even if enacted USB-C ports do not guarantee a harmonised power pack (intended to be covered by separate, simultaneous legislation) and there is a worry manufacturers may bypass the issue by switching to wireless chargers.

So, it may be a while before chargers take up less space in your briefcase.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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