The European Commission (EC) is pushing to impose a universal charger (USB-C type) for smartphones, putting Apple and its widely used iPhone in conflict.
EC, the executive body of the European Union (EU), believes that a universal cord for all gadgets will reduce electrical waste, while Apple argues that a one-size-fits-all charger will stifle innovation and increase pollution.
Agenda of EU
"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," EU tech chief Margrethe Vestager said in an official statement.
The regulations will apply to tablets, headphones, portable speakers, gaming consoles, and cameras, in addition to phones.
Manufacturers will also be required to make their fast-charging standards interoperable, as well as educate users about the charging standards that their device supports. Customers will be able to purchase new gadgets without a charger as part of the idea.
According to the Commission, 2.4 billion euros is spent annually on chargers alone that are not included with electronic devices.
For more than a decade, European regulators have pushed the tech industry to standardise chargers. The number of mobile phone charging ports on the market has decreased from 30 to three in that time.
Apple disagreed with the proposal in a statement.
“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,” a spokesperson from the company told Reuters.
Previously, Apple had taken its own attempts to limit charger e-waste, despite continuing to use Lightning, its 8 pin connector.
It stopped including charging bricks or earbuds in new iPhone boxes last year, instead of providing merely a Lightning to USB-C cord. The move, however, generated mixed reactions, with some claiming that it benefited Apple's financial line more than the environment.
Electronic waste is a problem. Annually, we produce a significant amount of e-waste. According to the European Commission, reducing charger production and disposal will save about a thousand tons of electronic trash per year.
The commission’s research claims that unused charging cables generate more than 11,000 tonnes of waste each year. Even a decade ago, there used to be chargers of 30 different models which has now come down to mostly 3- USB C, lightning, USB micro-B.
A single charger could curb the amount of waste. "Having one common charging standard would be a victory for common sense in the eyes of consumers," said Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight, to BBC.
Not only may it protect the environment, but it could also save customers up to 250 million euros every year.
Tech giant Apple will be at a problem as it uses its own lightning connector on its phones, although it has changed a few of its iPads, including the new Mini, the iPad Pro and the iPad Air, to USB C.