Reduce e-waste by harmonising charging cables

Before the first month of 2020 was up, European Parliament voted 582-40 in favour of a resolution urging lawmakers to set a standard for charging cables.

For this resolution to become law, the European Commission would have to draft it up and vote on it, in July.

Why did this resolution come about?

This resolution seeks to standardise charging cables for mobile devices, so that consumers would not have to use different cables for different mobile communication devices like phones, smartwatches or even e-readers.

Indirectly, this reduce e-wastage as well, something the resolution wants to address when it stated, “Continuing fragmentation of the market for chargers for mobile phones and other small and medium-sized electronic devices translates into an increase in e-waste and consumer frustration.”

Who will be affected

A vast majority of the industry uses micro-USB, which is slowly transitioning to USB-C interfaces. Every new phone upgrade almost always means a new type of charging cable is used, while the old one is tossed away, or kept to collect dust in a drawer somewhere.

This simply contributes to e-waste, which the EU resolution points out contributes to 50 million metric tonnes annually, around the world. This is an average of over 6 kg per person.

In 2016, the average e-waste contribution per person in Europe, is 16.6kg.

If the legislation is approved, it would largely affect Apple’s Lightning Cable which is proprietary and therefore used only for Apple mobile devices.

Apple’s statement published in the Financial Times, goes like this: “We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphone stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole.

“We hope the Commission will continue to seek a solution that does not restrict the industry’s ability to innovate and bring exciting new technology to customers.”

According to the resolution, “… for more than 10 years Members of the European Parliament have been demanding a common charger for mobile radio equipment, including mobile phones, tablets, e-book readers, smart cameras, wearable electronics and other small or medium-sized electronic devices.”