A trio of Democratic senators wrote to the Secretary of Commerce to get the US to make a similar decision the EU came to last month. Where the EU targetted Apple to make USB-C standard over the Lightning Connector, Ed J. Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders appear to want to standardize chargers across the board to limit e-waste. In the letter, the senators target common complaints echoed by many consumers:
“The economic and environmental harm inflicted by the consumer electronics industry’s failure to establish uniform charging accessory standards — a shortcoming that requires consumers to frequently change their charging accessories. This planned obsolescence is expensive and frustrating for consumers, and drives the proliferation of electronic waste.”
The letter, which we found thanks to GameSpot, focuses on the amount of e-waste the disposal of cables amounts to, 11,000 tons of it annually, according to a press release from the European Commission in 2021. The goals the senators look to achieve could be a slippery slope regarding how companies remain competitive through proprietary equipment. It may start with chargers, but other company-only parts could be targeted in the future in the name of “environmental health.”
“We urge you to coordinate with offices and agencies across the Department of Commerce to develop a comprehensive plan that will protect both consumers and the environment by
addressing the lack of a common U.S. charging standard. We cannot allow the consumer
electronics industry to prioritize proprietary and inevitably obsolete charging technology over consumer protection and environmental health.”
My gripe isn’t precisely with having to change chargers, but the build quality of these products, mainly from Apple. Where my USB-C and USB micro cables have lasted for years, a Lightning Connector may work for about 18 months before fraying to the point of being an electrical hazard. Rather than buying a new cable, I use my heat gun and heat shrink sleeves, but this isn’t a common practice for the average consumer.
What do you think about universal chargers or allowing the government to tell companies what proprietary equipment they can or cannot have? Let us know below.
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