June 8, 2022

USB-C for the win: A New EU Ruling Will Force Manufacturers To Move Towards A Single Charger

The EU steps in again.

In your junk drawer next to that lanyard from last year’s conference, empty boxes for headphones you can’t find anymore, rulers, pens, paper and other office supplies you’ll probably never use again, sits your cable ball. 

10+ years of USBs both mini and micro, MagSafe and Lightning cables of different sizes, all rolled into a patchy black and white striped ball. Like a rubber band ball but less fun because it doesn’t bounce. 

A new landmark ruling from the EU sets in motion new rules which will soon force manufacturers to adopt USB-C charging for all phones and tablets sold in the EU from late 2024. 

Apple is seen as the manufacturer with the most to lose, they will now need to phase out devices that use their Lightning charging cables. But Samsung and others are not left untouched given the full list of devices that will also be legally required to charge by USB-C includes: headphones, e-readers, handheld gaming consoles, and portable speakers. 

The fate for laptop manufacturers is less clear but provisionally they will have 40 months from the day these requirements come into effect to follow suit and adopt USB-C charging only. 

The bloc estimates 11,000 tonnes of e-waste is created every year from unused or thrown away chargers and cables. 

And if the environmental impact doesn’t convince you of the merits of this legislation the deal is also estimated to bring 250 million euros of savings to consumers.

To give you some perspective on the current usage levels of different types of chargers, according to an EU study of mobile phones sold in 2018 :

--50% of the chargers had a USB micro-B connector

--29% had a USB-C connector

--21% percent a Lightning connector

By changing our charging habits we can extend the lifespan of our devices, and by moving over to this new single charging type we can declutter those junk drawers once and for all. 

It’s encouraging to see EU lawmakers taking e-waste so seriously. 

Is it time now for the US to follow suit?