Coming soon a universal charger for mobile phones: model, affected devices... 4 questions about what Europe will impose

Coming soon a universal charger for mobile phones: model, affected devices… 4 questions about what Europe will impose

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The European Parliament gave the green light on Tuesday, October 4, to the obligation of an identical charger for all smartphones, tablets and other consoles. On which devices will this obligation apply? What is the environmental impact of such a measure? La Dépêche explains it to you.

No more mess of tangled chargers overflowing drawers: in two years, smartphones, tablets and other small electronics sold in the EU will all have to have the same charger. It was the European Parliament that ruled on the measure on Tuesday, October 4, after a plebiscite vote by MEPs in Strasbourg. But what changes will this decision bring? the midi office takes stock of four questions.

What charger model was chosen?

It is the USB-C type port that will become the only charger for portable electronic devices sold in the EU in autumn 2024. This world-first legislation comes to fruition to the chagrin of Apple, which in June criticized a text it accused of stifling innovation and isolating the EU – subject to a choice of “outdated” rules – from the rest of the world. While about ten years ago there were still about thirty different models, the number of existing charger types for new electronic devices has already been greatly reduced.

Now there are three: the Micro USB connector that has long equipped most phones, USB-C, a newer connection, and Apple’s Lightning charging technology.

What devices are affected?

This obligation will apply to mobile phones, tablets, electronic readers, headphones, digital cameras, wireless headsets, portable game consoles, GPS devices, computer keyboards and mice, as well as portable speakers. And this regardless of its manufacturer. Laptops will also be affected in the first half of 2026.

What environmental impact will this measure have?

The deployment of a single charger “will mean savings of at least 200 million euros per year for European consumers and will allow the reduction of more than one million tons of waste per year”, emphasizes Margrethe Vestager. According to the European institutions, discarded or unused chargers currently represent some 11,000 tons of electronic waste per year.

“It is a great day for consumers, a great day for our environment”, rejoiced, in the hemicycle of the European Parliament, the Maltese Labor MEP Alex Agius Saliba, rapporteur of the text voted by 602 votes (13 votes against, 8 abstentions).

But “it is the very small visible part of the iceberg in the environmental impact of digital technology”, noted French environmentalist MEP David Cormand, referring to the “planned obsolescence” or low “durability” and “repairability” of electronic devices. . “The cable (of the charger) should not be there to hide the forest from the ecological disaster that digital represents,” he criticized.

How much time do EU countries have to apply the measure?

Once the last purely procedural approval of the Council of the EU (Member States) has been obtained and the law has been published in the Official Gazette, European countries will have two years to apply it. So, by the fall of 2024.

“This transition period should allow manufacturers to adapt their production chain,” explained Margrethe Vestager, Vice President of the European Commission. Additionally, consumers will now have the option to purchase a new electronic device with or without a charger. The text also harmonizes fast charging technology to prevent charging speed from being restricted by using a charger of a different brand than the device.

As it becomes more widespread, wireless charging will also need to meet interoperability requirements by the end of 2024, which the European Commission will need to harmonize.

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