23 September 2021

Commission common charger proposal ‘first step towards ending the e-waste tsunami’

Today, the European Commission presented their proposal on a common charging solution for electronic devices [1].

The European Commission intends to revise the EU’s Radio Equipment Directive and kickstart the review of the Ecodesign regulation on external power supplies later in the year. With this move, the EU seeks to harmonise charging ports: USB-C will become the standard, putting an end to USB micro-B and Apple’s proprietary Lightning plug.
 
In addition, they aim to harmonise the fast-charging technology, give consumers the possibility of choosing whether to purchase a new electronic device with or without a new charger, and provide consumers with relevant information on charging characteristics of the devices they buy.
 
The products concerned by new requirements under the Radio Equipment Directive are mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones, headsets, hand-held video game consoles, and portable speakers.
 
Chargers have become synonymous with wasteful consumption of electricals. Every year, some half a billion chargers are sold in the EU. Smartphone chargers alone generate some 11,000 tonnes of e-waste each year across the European Union. [2]

With today’s proposal, the European Commission expects to reduce e-waste by almost a thousand tonnes annually.
 
Ernestas Oldyrevas, Programme Manager, ECOS – Environmental Coalition on Standards, said:
 
‘This is a very positive first step towards ending the e-waste tsunami. However, developing this proposal has taken too long. If all goes as planned, USB-C chargers will only become mandatory in 2024 or 2025. This is about 10 years after the expiry of voluntary commitments on chargers by the industry. If we are to turn the tide, policy action will require significantly more determination in the future’.
 

In addition, ECOS worries that wireless chargers have been left out of the plan.
 
‘The increasing reliance on wireless charging solutions should not be ignored. For the proposal to be fully effective, it is necessary to ensure that consumers are not tied to proprietary wireless charging solutions in the future. We hope that the Parliament and the Council will close this gap over the course of the upcoming negotiations.’
 
For additional background information: last year, ECOS produced a detailed report about the situation of the common charger issue, available here.

 

Press contact: 

Ivo Cabral, press manager at ECOS – ivo.cabral@ecostandard.org 

 

Notes to editors: 

[1] European Commission: Pulling the plug on consumer frustration and e-waste: Commission proposes a common charger for electronic devices: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_21_4613

[2] ECOS report: One Charger to Fit Them All – Using ecodesign to deliver an ambitious common charger initiative https://ecostandard.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/ECOS-COMMON-CHARGER-PAPER.pdf

ECOS is co-funded by the European Commission and EFTA

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