Group of MEPs vote to enforce universal phone charger

universal phone charger, e-waste
© Grigoroiu Eduard

MEPs voted in a proposal that would see universal phone chargers become the norm, in an effort to decrease electronic waste

On Wednesday (20 April) the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee voted to adopt a revised position Radio Equipment Directive. They won it 43 votes in favour, with just two against.

The proposal has not yet been presented to the whole of Parliament – unlike the draft battery regulation which passed in March, 2022.

The full European Parliament will now need to approve this draft in May, with MEPs then willing to negotiate final forms of the legislation with individual EU governments.

Universal phone chargers could significantly reduce e-waste

Right now, it is the norm for phone and tablet companies to come with a completely different type of charger. When people switch between phones, they often throw away old chargers because they can’t be used for any other purpose. Electronic waste is one of the most difficult to recycle, with no obvious and accessible way to do so for the everyday person.

The revised Directive suggests fewer redundant cables and chargers, USB Type-C port as the new standard for portable electronic devices and harmonisation for wireless charging.

MEPs propose that a standard USB port becomes the norm

If enforced, the set of rules would make sure universal phone chargers became a functional reality. Consumers would be able to charge their phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, videogame consoles and portable speakers in the same way, as they would come with a standard USB port. There would also need to be clear labelling on electronic goods, to let consumers know if they need to buy a new charger or if one is included with the item.

The only exemptions to this policy would be smart watches, health trackers and some other equipment – due to how small these devices are.

Rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba said: “We are proposing a truly comprehensive policy intervention, building on the Commission’s proposal by calling for the interoperability of wireless charging technologies by 2026 and improving information given to consumers with dedicated labels.”

Same group want European Commission strategy released by 2026

The group of MEPs will push the European Commission to present a strategy by 2026 on minimum interoperability of any new charging solutions, especially when it comes to the growing use of wireless charging.

MEP Alex Agius Saliba further said: “With half a billion chargers for portable devices shipped in Europe each year, generating 11,000 to 13,000 tonnes of e-waste, a single charger for mobile phones and other small and medium electronic devices would benefit everyone. It will help the environment, further help the re-use of old electronics, save money, and reduce unnecessary costs and inconvenience for both businesses and consumers.”


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