EU demands single plug for phones

LONDON (AP) – The European Union (EU) unveiled plans yesterday that would require smartphone makers to adopt a single charging method for mobile devices.

The EU Commission proposed legislation yesterday that would mandate USB-C cables for charging, technology that many device makers have already adopted. The main holdout is Apple, which has resisted the bloc’s efforts for a unified standard. iPhones come with the company’s own Lightning charging port, though the newest models come with cables that can be plugged into a USB-C socket.

The push by the EU will certainly be cheered by the millions of people who have searched through a drawer full of cables for the right charger. But the EU also wants to cut down on the 11,000 metric tonnes of electronic waste thrown out every year by Europeans.

The commission said the typical person living in the EU owns at least three chargers, and use two regularly, but 38 per cent of people report not being able to charge their phones at least once because they couldn’t find a compatible charger. Some 420 million mobile phones or portable electronic devices were sold in the EU last year.

“Chargers power all our most essential electronic devices. With more and more devices, more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. We are putting an end to that,” EU’s Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said. “With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics – an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste.”

Under the proposed law, which must still be scrutinised by the European Parliament, phones, tablets, digital cameras, handheld video game consoles, headsets and headphones sold in the EU would all have to come with USB-C charging ports.

After attempting for more than a decade to cajole the industry into adopting a common standard, the EU’s executive Commission is pushing the issue.