A group of United States senators has written a letter to the U.S. Commerce Department advocating that the country should follow the European Union’s decision to force all electronics manufacturers to adopt a common charging cable.
Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) authored the letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to argue for a standardized charging system. The three Senators say that the consumer electronics industry’s largest players have hurt consumers by failing to establish a uniform charging accessory standard and forcing them to frequently change their charging accessories instead.
“This planned obsolescence is expensive and frustrating for consumers, and drives the proliferation of electronic waste,” the senators write.
“The lack of interoperability standards for charging and other device accessories also results in e-waste and environmental damage. As specialized chargers become obsolete with the introduction of new products, or as consumers change the brand of phone or device that they use, their outdated chargers are usually just thrown away,” the senators continue.
“When electronics are not disposed of properly, e-waste can spread toxins in water, pollute soil, and degrade the air we breathe. In 2019, humans generated a staggering 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste, and only 17 percent of this waste was recycled. Chargers that are discarded or never used create more than 11,000 tons of e-waste annually. This is a global issue, with a lasting impact on our environment and public health.7 The U.S. government must respond.”
The three argue that the European Union (EU) has recognized this in the passing of legislation that requires manufacturers to adopt a common charger for electronic devices.
“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 letter continues.
“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.”
As noted by The Verge, the senators are not asking the Commerce Department to make USB-C a universal charging standard, but to create a “comprehensive strategy” that moves in a similar direction and leaves the conversation open to the department to make its own standard.
Tech companies have argued that forcing them to use a common charger will “stifle innovation” and prevent them from adopting faster or better charging methods in the future.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.