The European Parliament voted last Thursday to mandate Commission action to create legislation for a “common charging cable” by July 2020.
The action, passed by a vote of 582 for and 40 against, calls for a “mandatory introduction of common chargers for all mobile devices.” Parliament also wants the Commission to include regulations on wireless chargers and e-waste recycling.
This new measure exists largely to cut down on electronic waste. The EU estimates an average of 16.6kg of e-waste/year per inhabitant in Europe. The UN estimates that an average of 50 million metric tons in e-waste is generated annually. Additionally, in 2017, a UN report revealed that only 20% of all e-waste ends up recycled.
Apple is strongly opposing this measure. The tech giant shared in an official statement that the measure would “[stifle] innovation,” “harm consumers,” and “[create] an unprecedented volume of electronic waste.”
Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector hit the market in 2013 with the reveal of the iPhone 5. However, it’s unclear exactly how much money the license for Lightning makes for Apple. Apple reports profits from their Lightning program in a broad category of sales including dongles, audio accessories, and iPods. As a result, any figures would be speculation.
With these developments, it looks like the days of clarifying “Apple or Android?” for a charger could be numbered. But the question remains. Will the new regulations eliminate e-waste and move us towards a greener planet? Or will they stifle innovation and consumer interests through layers of bureaucracy?