Democrat senators have called on the US to follow the European Union’s (EU) lead and require smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, to adopt a common charging cable.
Starting from 2024, all mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers, will have to include a USB Type-C port – a move which the EU says will save consumers €250 million a year and prevent 11,000 tonnes of e-waste.
The news has not got noticed across the Atlantic, and in a letter to the US secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo, senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren with the support of independent Bernie Sanders, argued similar legislation in the US would benefit consumers and aid the environment.
Finally, a Brexit dividend?
“This policy has the potential to significantly reduce e-waste and help consumers who are tired of having to rummage through junk drawers full of tangled chargers to find a compatible one, or buy a new one,” the letter reads. “The EU has wisely acted in the public interest by taking on powerful technology companies over this consumer and environmental issue. The United States should do the same.
“We cannot allow the consumer electronics industry to prioritize proprietary and inevitably obsolete charging technology over consumer protection and environmental health.”
Any move in the US would likely face opposition from Apple, which is the most notable manufacturer not to currently USB-C, instead favouring its own proprietary Lightning connector for the iPhone.
It will be disproportionately affected by the EU’s new rules and has persistently opposed any mandate, arguing it will hamper innovation and lead to a huge amount of waste as consumers dispose of their old Lightning chargers.
The UK, perhaps eager to emphasise the UK is free of alleged Brussels ‘red tape’ in a post-Brexit world, has said it is not “currently considering” following suit. Despite this stance, it is likely that British consumers will be affected by the EU’s rules.