In a move that could force Apple to ditch the Lightning port in favor of USB-C, three United States senators have written to the U.S. Department of Commerce, asking for a comprehensive policy to mandate a common charging standard for mobile devices in the country. The move comes barely days after European Union lawmakers proposed legislation that will require all mobile gadgets sold in the region to use USB-C ports for wired charging. According to the EU, the policy will reduce e-waste and save consumers 250 million euros ($267 million) per year on unnecessary charger purchases.
The push to establish a common charging standard for all mobile devices comes at a time when e-waste, or electronic waste, is becoming a major global cause for concern. The different charging standards in different devices mean that consumers have to buy a bunch of chargers, all of which inevitably end up in landfills when they become obsolete a few years down the line. That not only forces consumers to fork up additional money to buy new chargers, but also causes major environmental issues. Lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic now seem to believe that their new policies will help change things for the better.
Senators Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have written a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, asking Raimondo’s department to mandate a common charging standard for all mobile devices sold in the United States. According to the letter, all mobile gadgets should have a common charging port, thereby eliminating the need for separate chargers for separate devices. The letter praised the recent EU policy on this subject and claimed that the United States should come up with a similar policy. Without mentioning Apple by name, the letter claimed that proprietary charging standards create unnecessary e-waste and force consumers to pay for new chargers every time they buy a new gadget from a different manufacturer. Hence, the senators argued, the U.S. should follow Europe’s lead and mandate a solution that can “address unnecessary consumer costs, mitigate e-waste, and restore sanity and certainty to the process of purchasing new electronics.”
One Common Charging Port For All Gadgets
While Sanders, Warren and Markey are basing their argument on the new EU policy, there’s one major difference between the EU legislation and what the senators are urging the Commerce Department to do. While the EU is mandating USB-C as the default wired charging interface for all mobile devices, the U.S. senators want the Dept. of Commerce to establish a uniform charging standard that may or may not include USB-C. Of course, it is highly unlikely that the U.S. will suddenly come up with a whole new charging technology and mandate that as the new standard, as that will defeat the very purpose of this initiative. That means if this plan gains traction, it will very likely mean that USB-C will be adopted as the common charging interface for all mobile gadgets in the country.
It is worth noting here that most of the major consumer tech companies have already adopted USB-C in their phones, tablets and other devices, while Apple is one of the only notable holdouts. Among Apple’s products, Macs currently use USB-C (Thunderbolt) ports, as do select iPad models. However, most iPads and AirPods still use Lightning, but that’s expected to change following the EU policy change. According to reports, next year’s Apple iPhone 15 is expected to ditch the Lightning port in favor of USB-C to comply with the EU regulation, which will be a major victory for consumer rights organizations and environmental activists who have been pushing for this change for a long time.