The European Union has adopted a new law that aims to have electronic devices all using USB-C ports by 2024, but the US has a long way to go before adopting a universal charger policy.
The goal is to allow people using multiple devices to reliably charge their phones, tablets, handheld gaming consoles, and other chargeable technology with universal ports and cables, rather than having to use several devices across different brands.
By the end of 2024, all mobile phones, tablets and cameras sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C charging port. From spring 2026, the obligation will extend to laptops. The new law, adopted by plenary on Tuesday with 602 votes in favour, 13 against and 8 abstentions, is part of a broader EU effort to reduce e-waste and to empower consumers to make more sustainable choices.
In a letter sent by Senators Edward Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, the lawmakers asked Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to look toward a strategy that would require universal charging standards in consumer tech.
Under the new rules, consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they purchase a new device, as they will be able to use one single charger for a whole range of small and medium-sized portable electronic devices.
Regardless of their manufacturer, all new mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, e-readers, keyboards, mice, portable navigation systems, earbuds and laptops that are rechargeable via a wired cable, operating with a power delivery of up to 100 Watts, will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port.
All devices that support fast charging will now have the same charging speed, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.
These new obligations will lead to more re-use of chargers and will help consumers save up to $250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases. Disposed of and unused chargers account for about 11 000 tonnes of e-waste annually in the EU.
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