European Parliament has voted 582-40 for a resolution urging the EU Commission to adopt universal phone/mobile charger regulations by July. The effort by lawmakers looks to cut down on the electronic waste and ensure consumers won’t have to buy a new charger with each device.
The proposed legislation is a clear hit at Apple, which one of the few major smartphone providers to not support USB-C. Though the company has adopted the standard for its iPads and Macbooks, the iPhone 11 line still uses its proprietary Lightning connector.
The vote comes after the European Commission announced last summer that it was considering ‘other options’ to force Apple to use a common charging standard. The company had failed to agree to a voluntary commitment to switch to micro-USB ten years ago and continues to do so now.
Its argument is that forcing USB-C would stifle innovation and could produce a lot of short-term waste. It commissioned a study to show that moving to a single standard will incur costs of €1.5 billion, outweighing the supposed €13 million in environmental benefits.
“Apple stands for innovation. Regulations that would drive conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones freeze innovation rather than encourage it. Such proposals are bad for the environment and unnecessarily disruptive for customers,” the company said.
“More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. We want to ensure that any new legislation will not result in the shipment of any unnecessary cables or external adaptors with every device or render obsolete the devices and accessories used by many millions of Europeans and hundreds of millions of Apple customers worldwide.”
Clearly the EU parliament wasn’t convinced by the argument. Apple’s Lightning doesn’t currently do anything USB-C can’t, and the difference in cables can prove a major inconvenience for consumers. A universal cable could, for example, let public transport and cafés build in a full charging solution.
Still, it seems quite wasteful when you consider that wireless charging is just around the corner. Lawmakers do mention the tech as a possible solution in their resolution, but forcing it could drive up the prices of mid and low-range devices. All of this at least opens the conversation to feedback and greatly increases the likelihood of legislation.