In the European Union, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the last year. On average, a consumer owns around three mobile phone chargers, of which he uses two on a regular basis. According to data from the European Commission, 38% of consumers say they have experienced problems at least once when they were unable to charge their mobile phone because the available chargers were incompatible. Consumers spend approximately € 2.4 billion a year on chargers that do not come with their electronic devices. In addition, it is estimated that discarded and unused chargers account for around 11,000 tons of electronic waste per year.
And the European Commission wants to act on this situation, which this Thursday presented legislation to establish a common charging system for all devices: mobile phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and portable video game consoles.
“The intention is to improve consumer convenience and reduce the environmental footprint associated with the production and disposal of chargers, while pursuing further innovation in the sector,” says Brussels.
With the proposed revision of the current directive on radio equipment, “the charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonized,” says the Community Executive. Thus, USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and portable video game consoles.
In addition, the European Commission proposes to separate the sale of chargers from the sale of electronic devices to “improve service to consumers and reduce the environmental footprint.” In this way, consumers will be able to buy a new electronic device without a new charger. This will limit the number of unwanted chargers purchased or not used. Brussels estimates that reducing the production and disposal of new chargers will reduce the amount of electronic waste by almost 1,000 tons per year.
The proposal of the Community Executive also wants the producers to have to report on the performance of the load, on the power required by the device and if it supports fast charging. “This will make it easier for consumers to see if their existing chargers meet the requirements of their new device or help them select a compatible charger,” states the Commission: “This would help consumers limit the number of new chargers. bought and save 250 million euros a year in unnecessary purchases of chargers “.
The proposal, from now on, must be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council through the ordinary legislative procedure (codecision). From here on, a 24-month transition period would open from the date of adoption to give the industry time to adapt before the entry into force.
To have a common charger, full interoperability is required on both sides of the cable: the electronic device and the external power supply. Interoperability at the end of the device, which is by far the biggest challenge, can be achieved with this Thursday’s proposal.
The interoperability of the external power supply will be addressed through the revision of the European Commission Ecodesign regulation, which will be released later this year so that its entry into force can be aligned with the current proposal.