The European Parliament has voted for tougher action to reduce electronic waste, asking the Commission to develop tougher rules by July 2020.
More precisely, the European Parliament wants the Commission to adopt in July the law provided for by the directive on radio equipment of 2014. The resolution, which was approved with 582 votes to 40, calls loudly for a single charger for mobile devices . In the past, the Commission has repeatedly postponed the adoption of these measures and has never forced smartphone manufacturers to use a single connector.
Parliament says there is now an "urgent need" to reduce electronic waste. Parliament notes that around 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced worldwide each year, averaging more than 6 kg per person. In Europe, the average is 16.6 kg per person, for a total of 12.3 million tonnes.
To date, the Commission's approach to the issue of electronic waste from shippers has been to propose voluntary and non-mandatory measures by various manufacturers. This choice has resulted in a reduction in the number of charger types on the market – from over 30 in 2009 to just three today – but no universal charger still works on all mobile devices.
For example, Apple continues to use its Lightning standard, while other manufacturers have switched to USB-based charging (such as the latest USB-C standard).
Apple has already criticized this decision, arguing that such an obligation would affect innovation and bring much more waste:
Over a billion Apple devices with Lightning connectors have been shipped worldwide, regardless of a complete ecosystem of accessory and other device manufacturers who use the Ligthtning port to serve our customers. We want to make sure that there is no legislation preventing the shipment of unnecessary external cables or adapters, only to make them compatible with the new standards. The standard would also make devices and accessories used by millions of users worldwide obsolete.
This would result in an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and a great disadvantage for users. Being forced to overturn this market standard will have consequences far beyond the stated objectives of the Commission.
Parliament also wants the European Commission to address the issue of wireless chargers in order to adopt interoperability between all devices: Consumers should not be forced to buy new chargers with each new device. We are asking for universal cables and wireless chargers.
We’ll see if this time the Commission takes mandatory action, forcing Apple to adopt a standard other than the Lightning port on the iPhone.