Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, along with Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are pushing for a universal charging standard for smartphones, the senators said in a letter sent Thursday to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
In the letter, lawmakers urge the Commerce Department to develop a strategy to protect consumers and mitigate e-waste, following the European Union’s lead on universal chargers.
“Consumers shouldn’t have to constantly buy new chargers for different devices. We can make things clearer with uniform standards, for less expense, less hassle, and less waste,” Warren said on Twitter.
Consumers shouldn’t have to constantly buy new chargers for different devices. We can make things clearer with uniform standards, for less expense, less hassle and less waste.https://t.co/rbxLleahIj
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 7, 2022
The senators argue that not having a universal charger creates a financial burden on consumers and creates more e-waste, writing, “In addition to unnecessary expense for U.S. consumers, disposing and replacing chargers creates e-waste that lead to environmental damage, including the spread of toxins in water, soil pollution and degraded air quality. Discarded and unused chargers alone generate more than 11,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year.
Although the Senator’s letter does not specify what this standard charger should be, the recent decision by the European Union has made the USB Type-C cable the universal standard, and although this cable covers most smartphones, tablets, earphones, headphones and portable speakers, it does not cover the iPhone, which uses Apple’s exclusive Lightning connector to charge.
However, as USA Today reports, the new EU ruling could force Apple to replace it.
“We cannot allow the consumer electronics industry to prioritize proprietary and inevitably obsolete charging technology over consumer protection and environmental health,” reads an excerpt. of the letter.
Time will tell if the Department of Commerce will take action on behalf of the senators’ request and if Apple will respect the EU decision and remove its Lightning port.
“[The EU’s] policy has the potential to significantly reduce e-waste and help consumers who are tired of having to rummage through junk drawers full of matted chargers to find a compatible charger or purchase a new one,” the senators wrote. “The EU has acted wisely in the public interest by taking on powerful tech companies on this consumer and environmental issue. The United States should do the same.”
Diego Ramos Bechara is a freelance writer for IGN, and he’s a fan of all things Star Wars, Rockstar, Naughty Dog, and Batman.
You can follow him on Twitter @DRamosBechara.