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EU Approves Common Charger for Electronic Devices by Fall 2024

Multiple iphone chargers.
Apple iPhone and iPad charging cables. Credit: Solen Feyissa via Unsplash

The European Union Council has issued a final approval on a mandatory USB-C common charger for electronic devices by early 2024. According to the European Parliament, all mobile phones, tablets, game consoles, digital cameras, headphones and loudspeakers, wireless mice and keyboards, sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a common charger.

These rules will take action 24 months after entering into force, with laptops also joining the game in Spring 2026.

“Having a charger that fits multiple devices will save money and time and also helps us reduce electronic waste,” Czech Industry Minister Jozef Síkela said. He added that e-waste due to chargers currently amounts to 11,000 metric tons a year, according to Politico. 

European Parliament lawmakers already gave the green light on the decision in early October. The next steps for the bill are to be signed by Parliament President Roberta Metsola and a representative of the Council of the EU, currently held by the Czech Republic.

Once these steps are completed, it is to be published in the EU’s Official Journal, kickstarting 20 days after publication.

The head to head clash with Apple

Before the idea got executed into reality, in 2021, Apple went against the idea of a universal charger. The company believed that this move will stop innovation and create more pollution.

Apple iPhone and charger.
Apple has to change the iPhone charger connection in the EU. Public Domain

The tech giant added that consumers who already use multiple of their devices and accessories would be “greatly inconvenienced.”

Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager, responded saying, “EU consumer were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers.” 

Vestager added, “We gave the industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions.” 

Complaints from consumers

The wide range of charges each household has creates issues that could be dealt with by alternatively owning just one. Consumers complain that it is both a waste of money and time.

Apple MacBook's new USB-C (Type-C) port
Apple MacBook’s new USB-C (Type-C) port. Credit: Maurizio Pesce from Milan, Italia. CC-BY-2.0/ Wikimedia Commons

Not only they forcefully need to buy a new one every time they purchase a new electronic device, but it also produces an incredible amount of electronic waste.

According to a press release from the council, EU consumers purchased about 420 million electronic devices in 2020. On average, they own three chargers per device while only using two of them. Despite the excess of chargers, about 38% of consumers still have issues charging their devices. 

The background story of the common charger

In the past decade, Parliament has repeatedly called for the introduction of a common charger. Despite previous efforts to work with industry to bring down the number of mobile chargers, voluntary measures failed to produce concrete results for EU consumers. The legislative proposal was finally tabled by the Commission on 23 September 2021.

Typically, iPhones are charged from a Lightning cable, while Android-based devices use USB-C connectors.

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