Just last week, the European Union formally reached an agreement to make the USB-C charging port a mandatory standard starting in 2024. Now, a group of US senators are looking to follow suit, and are calling on the US Department of Commerce to adopt it. Similar policy to address “lack of interoperability standards for charging and other device accessories”.
USB-C charging requirements in the US?
The letter was sent to Gina Raimondo, the US Secretary of Commerce, and was signed by Senators Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. In the letter, all three explained that the lack of an interoperability standard in the United States leads to electronic waste and environmental damage, while also being a burden on consumers (via the edge).
“We urge you to follow in the EU’s footsteps by developing a comprehensive strategy to address unnecessary consumer costs, mitigate e-waste, and restore safety and certainty in the purchase of new electronics,” the letter states.
According to the senators, private charging standards such as Apple’s Lightning port are an example of “planned obsolescence” that is “expensive and frustrating for consumers, and leads to the proliferation of e-waste”.
Regarding how to tackle this problem, the senators wrote that the United States should look no further than the European Union. The EU’s new public charger law is an example of “handling powerful tech companies” to reduce e-waste and “helping consumers who are tired of searching through junk drawers full of tangled chargers to find a compatible device, or buy a new one.”
The letter concludes with the Secretary of Commerce’s quest to address the lack of a common US tariff standard to solve these problems:
We urge you to coordinate with offices and agencies across the Department of Commerce to develop a comprehensive plan that will protect both consumers and the environment by addressing the lack of a common US shipping standard. We cannot allow the consumer electronics industry to prioritize proprietary and inevitably outdated charging technology over consumer protection and environmental health.
Apple’s response: USB-C iPhone in 2023?
It is important to remember that it took years and years before the European Union finally passed its Common Shipping Port Agreement. In fact, when efforts first started to gain traction, the plan was to standardize microUSB as the common charging port standard.
Apple has regularly backed away from the EU’s common charger narrative, saying such a requirement would in fact generate more e-waste and stifle innovation.
Regardless of how you feel about EU legislation, reports indicate that Apple plans to switch to USB-C charging for the iPhone 15 in 2023. However, the company’s ultimate goal is to make the iPhone completely portless.
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