Apple's defense of iPhone Lightning fails: Standard charger law due by summer 2020

European lawmakers have ignored Apple's arguments against a common mobile charger.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

European Members of Parliament (MEPs) have voted overwhelmingly in favor of pressuring the European Commission (EC) to beef-up rules on common mobile chargers by July 2020. 

MEPs yesterday approved the common mobile charger resolution with 582 votes in favor and 40 against the proposal, Reuters reported. 

iPhone-maker Apple has campaigned against any law that would require it to adopt a standard charger, which would force it to fall in line with Android phones and use a USB-C connector instead of its own Lightning connector. 

"We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole," Apple said last week. 

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Apple argues a common charger would stifle innovation and would create an "unprecedented volume of electronic waste" from the existing one-billion iPhone and iPad devices already in use. 

Until now, Europe's efforts to achieve a common charger have been voluntary and are aimed at reducing e-waste. While MEPs say that the voluntary framework has significantly decreased the number of charger types, it's failed to achieve a common charger.

"There is an 'urgent need for EU regulatory action' to reduce electronic waste and empower consumers to make sustainable choices," MEPs said on Thursday

"Without hampering innovation, the EU executive should ensure that the legislative framework for a common charger will be 'scrutinized regularly to take into account technical progress'," they added.

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EU lawmakers also want the EC to ensure that wireless chargers are interoperable with different mobile devices, boost recycling of cables and chargers, and avoid consumers having to buy new chargers with each new device. 

According to estimates, around 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste are generated globally per year, with an average of more than 6kg per person. In Europe, total e-waste generated in 2016 was 12.3 million metric tonnes, equivalent to 16.6kg on average per inhabitant. Short lifecycles for some devices also lead to more e-waste, notes the resolution.

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