MEPs have called on the EC to come up with a proposal by July 2020 to standardise chargers across the EU for phones, ebook readers, smart cameras, tablets and wearable tech.
An update to the Radio Equipment Directive includes provision for a standard charger, with Vice Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, Róża Thun und Hohenstein, saying: “The Commission has to show leadership and stop letting tech giants dictate standards. If digital sovereignty means something to this new Commission, we expect a proposal to establish a standard of a common charger, within the next six months.”
The draft law passed with 550 votes to 12, with 8 abstentions. It will now be formally approved by the Council, after which Member states will have two years to transpose the rules into national laws, with manufacturers having an additional year to comply.
In 2014, there were more than 30 charger types. Encouragement from the GSMA and the EC, along with voluntary cross-industry co-operation saw that number shrink to three main types: micro USB, USB Type-C and Apple’s Lightning connector. And there it has remained stuck ever since.
However, this is not enough for the EC’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection committee, which argues that a common charger will reduce electronic waste, lower costs and improve the safety and interoperability of chargers. They say electronic waste will reach more than 12 million tonnes by 2020 across the EU, with 51,000 tonnes of that coming from discarded chargers.
What this means for B2B service providers
Most B2B service providers and their large enterprise customers now have targets to reduce waste (see Green initiatives are a huge emerging market for B2B telecoms) and improve their sustainability. Service providers should pre-empt any changes by working with handset manufacturers to reduce electronic waste and improve levels of recycling. Standardising chargers is one measure, but ultimately service providers must encourage re-use of chargers rather than a model which means a new charger is shipped with every phone. This means making chargers more robust and less susceptible to fraying/perishing; providing new cables rather than entire chargers; providing chargers on-demand rather than as standard, and so on.
B2B service providers have the power to force handset manufacturers to standardise and improve the way chargers are provided. Rather than waiting to have regulations imposed upon them, they should actively engage and lead the way in order to comply with upcoming regulations, as well as meet their own, and their customers’, environmental targets.