Last week, the EU officially agreed that standardization across charging for electronics, including Apple products, is the need of the hour. The country plans to mandate a transition to USB-C, starting in 2024. Now, senators in the US plan to convince the Biden-led government to follow suit. The senators recently penned a letter urging the US Commerce Department to address the “lack of interoperability standards for charging and other device accessories” immediately.
In a letter to Gina Raimondo, the US secretary of commerce, senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Ed Markey stress that the lack of a charging standard in the US is actively contributing to e-waste and burdening consumers.
Essentially, the senators’ letter echoes the sentiment of the EU legislators pushing for the transition to USB-C. The EU also concluded that action was necessary because e-waste generation due to the lack of standardization is a growing concern. Consumers shouldn’t have to pay for proprietary connectors because companies choose to disrupt the status quo.
In a statement to The Verge, Senator Markey said, “Year after year, Americans pile our outdated chargers onto landfills while we shell out more money to tech companies for new ones. This waste is driving consumers up the wall, and it’s driving our planet deeper into a climate crisis. I’m asking the Department of Commerce to follow the lead of the European Union and look into solutions so that we can save our money, our sanity, and our planet.”
The senators allege that proprietary connectors, including Apple’s Lightning connector, are a stellar example of “planned obsolescence.” The senators suggest that the US follow the EU’s lead to “help consumers who are tired of having to rummage through junk drawers full of tangled chargers to find a compatible one, or buy a new one.”
“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 U.S. charging standard. We cannot allow the consumer electronics industry to prioritize proprietary and inevitably obsolete charging technology over consumer protection and environmental health.”
Meanwhile, Apple has already clarified its position on the matter. It vehemently decries the USB-C mandate in the EU, saying the disposal of perfectly functional Lightning accessories would create even more e-waste. Additionally, consumers would be burdened even more when they would have to replace the discarded accessories with USB-C ones. The company also says the standardization law would “stifle innovation.”
Interestingly, Apple is wary of the likelihood of the change. Its iPad and MacBook models already support USB-C to a great extent. However, the iPhone continues to use a Lightning connector. It is also possible that the company would ditch charging ports altogether and switch to a portless design with MagSafe for charging since the EU doesn’t intend to standardize wireless charging.
Notably, the EU has also merely agreed upon a course of action. Legislation is still years away, and the first signs of enforcement are slated for 2024. So, Big Tech companies could respond to the US government’s push for USB-C just like they respond to the EU. Regardless, the rumor mill suggests Apple will switch to USB-C with the iPhone 15 in 2023.[Via The Verge]