EU electronics must use USB Type-C charger by 2024
Parliament and its Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee have been asking for a common charger solution for the past decade, continuously calling on the European Commission to act. A legislative proposal was eventually tabled on 23 September 2021, with the final shape of the legislation negotiated over the past month.
The provisional agreement on the amended Radio Equipment Directive establishes a single charging solution for certain electronic devices — this means consumers will no longer need a different charging device and cable every time they purchase a new device, and can use one single charger for all of their small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. Charging speed will also be harmonised for devices that support fast charging, allowing users to charge their devices at the same speed with any compatible charger.
Mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earbuds, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld video game consoles and portable speakers that are rechargeable via a wired cable will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C port, regardless of their manufacturer; exemptions would apply only for devices that are too small to have a USB-C port, such as smart watches, health trackers and some sports equipment. Laptops will also have to be adapted to the requirements by 40 months after the entry into force.
EU consumers will be provided with clear information on the charging characteristics of new devices, making it easier for them to see whether their existing chargers are compatible. Buyers will also be able to choose whether they want to purchase new electronic equipment with or without a charging device.
The law is a part of a broader effort to make products in the EU more sustainable, to reduce electronic waste and make consumers’ lives easier. Disposed-of and unused chargers are estimated to represent about 11,000 tonnes of e-waste annually, so it is hoped that the new obligations will lead to more reuse of chargers and help consumers save up to €250 million a year on unnecessary charger purchases.
“Today we have made the common charger a reality in Europe,” said the Parliament’s rapporteur, Alex Agius Saliba. “European consumers were frustrated with multiple chargers piling up with every new device. Now they will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics.
“We are proud that laptops, e-readers, earbuds, keyboards, computer mice and portable navigation devices are also included in addition to smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers. We have also added provisions on wireless charging being the next evolution in the charging technology and improved information and labelling for consumers.”
After the summer recess, Parliament and Council will have to formally approve the agreement before it is published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days after publication and its provisions will start to apply after 24 months. The new rules would not apply to products placed on the market before the date of application.
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