One charger for all: EU, India take the lead in reducing e-waste

    WITH the aim of reducing electronic waste, the European Council directed the European Union (EU) countries in October 2022 to introduce legislation within two years mandating that all brands of smartphones, laptops, tablets, cameras and other such devices be equipped with a single connector, the standard USB-C. Considering that discarded chargers and cables alone account for an estimated 11,000 tonnes of e-waste in Europe annually — and the volume of the trash is going up — it is indeed a laudable move. It has taken concrete legislative shape after deliberations with the stakeholders over more than a decade. Apple had been opposing it in a bid to retain its dominance. It had come up with the lightning charger in 2012. But in a welcome climbdown and an acknowledgement of its huge market base in the EU, the company has switched over to USB-C much before the 2024 deadline, as seen in its latest models.

    Besides saving money and decreasing e-waste, the chargers’ interoperability with various gadgets is geared to make the consumers’ lives easier. It is significant as at least the basic versions of these e-devices are increasingly becoming essential items.

    Recognising this need, India has set March 2025 as the deadline for shifting to the USB-C standard charging port. Given its huge population and the all-out push for digital payments (in August alone, the country made history with over 10 billion UPI transactions), this decision will curb generation of e-waste by connectors. Initially, the charger-wire e-waste would go up as users of various brands will trash their old chargers and cables while upgrading their devices and opting for USB-C, but in the long run, this policy will pay off.

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