Senators look to create universal charging cord standards to reduce electronic waste

Photo (c) Sally Anscombe - Getty Images

The inspiration came from a recent action by the European Union

If you’ve been using electronic devices for a while, you’ve likely got a box full of Lightning ports, USB-A, USB-B, USB-C, Micro-USB cables, and who knows what else that’s needed to charge your devices.

Research shows that consumers own an average of three different charging devices, yet 40% say they have been unable to locate a compatible charger to power up their device. To fix that problem, three U.S. Senators have approached Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo with a plan to implement uniform charging accessory standards.

Sens. Ed Markey, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren pitched Raimondo their theory that electronics manufacturers are producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and require replacing. They say this planned obsolescence causes financial stress and 11,000 tons of e-waste annually from discarded and unused chargers.

Thank you, EU

The senators admitted that they took their inspiration for the idea from the European Union (EU). Two weeks ago, the EU decided to limit manufacturers to one charger for frequently used small- and medium-sized portable electronic devices. It also said consumers should be given the option to choose whether they want to purchase a new device with or without a charging device

“We commend the Department of Commerce for the steps it has already taken to address these issues, and we urge you to follow the EU’s lead by developing a comprehensive strategy to address unnecessary consumer costs, mitigate e-waste, and restore sanity and certainty to the process of purchasing new electronics,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Secretary Raimondo. 

“[The EU’s] policy has the potential to significantly reduce e-waste and help consumers who are tired of having to rummage through junk drawers full of tangled chargers to find a compatible one, or buy a new one. The EU has wisely acted in the public interest by taking on powerful technology companies over this consumer and environmental issue. The United States should do the same.”

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