EU Mandates Universal Charger
Apple is known to change things up from chargers to headphone ports to what’s included in the box; every year it seems to be different. Remember the uproar when they got rid of the headphone jack in 2016? With bluetooth headphones readily available, it was less relevant. And as technology has continued to change, features have been dropped, like buttons, while others have been added, like Face ID. When the iPhone 12 was released, Apple stopped including a charging brick in their boxes, claiming it would help reduce environmental impact.
This latest charger change with the iPhone 15 line gets rid of the now-familiar Lighting cord and swaps it for USB-C. Other brands like Samsung have already been using USB-C and now Apple is following suit… not because they want to but rather because the EU has mandated universal chargers for phones and other devices and must be compliant by the end of 2024. This is an effort to reduce e-waste so that you no longer need a different charger for a new device every time. Plus, we’ve all dealt with that mess of tangled cords in the junk drawer with no idea which one goes to what device.
Who is affected?
While this law takes place across the pond, it still impacts us here in the U.S. Manufacturers would have to make different products for the EU and places with this mandate versus the U.S. and other parts of the world that don’t have a mandate. Plus, future mandates are sure to come as the EU is not alone in this mandate and it may come to the U.S. soon as California has recently passed a similar mandate.
“In 2020, EU consumers bought approximately 420 million electronic devices and, on average, they own three chargers to charge these electronic devices - of which they regularly use two. Despite this, 38% of consumers report having experienced problems charging their devices because no compatible charger was available.”
Electronic waste, or e-waste, refers to discarded electronic devices and their components. This includes anything from old smartphones and laptops to broken TVs and outdated appliances. The problem with e-waste lies in its improper disposal, which can have devastating consequences for our environment.
Toxic Materials: Many electronic devices contain hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. When not disposed of correctly, these toxins can leach into the soil and water, posing serious health risks to both humans and wildlife.
Resource Depletion: Electronic devices are composed of valuable metals like gold, silver, and rare earth elements. When e-waste is not recycled, these finite resources go to waste, leading to more mining and resource depletion.
Energy Consumption: Manufacturing electronic devices consumes vast amounts of energy. Throwing them away instead of recycling them perpetuates this energy-intensive cycle.
E-Waste Day is an annual event dedicated to raising awareness about the e-waste problem and encouraging responsible disposal and recycling practices. Established by the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Forum, this day serves as a reminder of the urgent need for action.
What You Can Do on E-Waste Day
Dispose Responsibly: Proper disposal ensures that valuable materials are recovered and hazardous substances are disposed of safely. Many companies offer recycling such as Best Buy, Apple, and local landfills and recycling centers. Check out this guide to E-Waste disposal in Deschutes County!
Upgrade Wisely: When it's time to replace your electronic devices, consider repairing or refurbishing them if possible. The Environmental Center offers a free event called Repair Café every few months so make sure to check out the website to stay up to date on these awesome events.
With the focus being on other aspects of our lives to reduce our environmental impact, electronics can often go overlooked as we’re so excited about something new. That means we might overlook what actually goes into our electronics and what happens to the old ones. From resource extraction to disposal, electronics can have detrimental effects on the environment and this E-Waste Day we should think about how we can minimize our impact and celebrate the mandates, like the EU universal charger requirement, that help us achieve this.