The European Union announced plans Thursday to require the smartphone industry to adopt a uniform charging cord for mobile devices, a push that could eliminate the all-too-familiar experience of rummaging through a drawer full of tangled cables to find the right one.
The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, proposed legislation that would mandate USB-C cables for charging, technology that many device makers have already adopted. The main holdout is Apple, which said it was concerned the new rules would limit innovation, and that would end up hurting consumers. iPhones come with the company’s own Lightning charging port, though the newest models come with cables that can be plugged into a USB-C socket.
The push by the EU will certainly be cheered by the millions of people who have searched through a jumble of snarled cables for the one that fits their phone. But the EU also wants to cut down on the 11,000 metric tons of electronic waste thrown out every year by Europeans.
The commission said the typical EU resident owns at least three chargers, and use two regularly, but 38% of people report not being able to charge their phones at least once because they couldn’t find a compatible charger. Some 420 million mobile phones or portable electronic devices were sold in the EU last year.
The draft rules also call for standardizing fast charging technology and giving consumers the right to choose whether to buy new devices with or without a charger, which the EU estimates will save consumers 250 million euros ($293 million) a year.
After attempting for more than a decade to cajole the industry into adopting a common standard – efforts that whittled dozens of different charging plugs down to a handful – the EU’s executive Commission is pushing the issue.