Last year, we heard that the European Commission (EC) has put forward a new proposal that will make USB-C charging necessary for most portable electronics in the European Union (EU). Today, we are taking one step closer to this reality as the EU, Parliament, and Council negotiators have agreed to make USB-C the charging standard for a variety of electronics by autumn 2024.
The idea behind the move is to promote sustainability and reduce e-waste by empowering consumers to reuse their old chargers instead of buying new, and often different types of chargers for their devices.
Currently, this legislation applies to the following portables that require a cable for charging:
- Mobile phones
- Digital cameras
- Headphones and headsets
- Handheld video game consoles
- Portable speakers
- Computer mice
All of the aforementioned electronic categories will be required to have a USB-C port by autumn 2024. Interestingly, the legislation will also be applicable to laptops around 2026.
Additionally, the EU has stated that consumers will be clearly informed via product documentation about whether their existing charging cables are supported for their new purchases or not. Consumers will also have the option to purchase new devices with or without charging accessories.
The European Parliament's rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba stated:
Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe! European consumers were frustrated long with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics. We are proud that laptops, e-readers, earbuds, keyboards, computer mice, and portable navigation devices are also included in addition to smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers. We have also added provisions on wireless charging being the next evolution in the charging technology and improved information and labelling for consumers.
The EU hopes to save Europeans €250 million a year on needless charging accessory purchases and also reduce e-waste by 11,000 tons annually.
Apple is among the companies most affected by this legislation because it uses its proprietary Lightning cables for many of its products. However, we have heard reports that it is considering transitioning iPhones to the USB-C standard by 2023. We will likely hear confirmation about this in the coming weeks or months.