The European Union recently reached an agreement that will require hardware manufacturers to adopt a common charger — specifically the USB-C standard — by 2024. Three U.S. senators sent an open letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging that the United States follow suit.
The letter, signed by Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, cited consumer frustration, costs and an uptick in e-waste, owing to the proliferation of different charging cables. The letter specifically quotes a figure from the EU, noting that chargers alone account for around 11,000 tons of e-waste a year.
“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 lawmakers wrote. “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.”
USB-C has been widely adopted by a number of manufacturers across the industry, but there are some holdouts, which either continue to employ older standards like micro-USB or rely on their own proprietary ports -- Apple’s iPhone for example. While the company has adopted USB-C for MacBooks and iPads, its phones continue to use the first-party Lightning cable.
Such legislation would require the company move to USB-C. The upcoming iPhone 14 is rumored to sport Lightning, while rumors point to the arrival of USB-C for next year’s Pro models.