LONDON (AP) — Forget rummaging through the trash drawer. Soon, Europeans will only need one cable to charge their smartphones and other devices.
European Union officials said they signed an interim agreement on Tuesday that will require a uniform charging cord across the 27-nation bloc. This is part of a wider effort to make products sold in the EU more sustainable and reduce e-waste.
The new rules, which will come into force in autumn 2024, mean that consumers in the EU will only need to use a common USB Type-C cable for small and medium-sized rechargeable portable electronic devices.
“European consumers were frustrated with multiple chargers piling up at home,” Alex Agius Saliba, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator, said at a press briefing in Brussels. “Now they will be able to use a single charger for all portable electronic devices, which is an important step in increasing consumer convenience.”
Devices covered include cell phones, tablets, e-readers, headphones, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, portable video game consoles, keyboards and mice, portable speakers and navigation.
Laptops are also covered, but manufacturers will have more time to comply.
The rules only apply to devices sold in the European single market, which includes 30 countries. However, like the EU’s strict privacy regulations, they could end up becoming a de facto standard for the rest of the world.
While many electronics manufacturers have started to adopt USB-C plugs in their devices, Apple has been one of the main holdouts.
Apple, which did not respond to a request for comment, previously said it was concerned the rules would limit innovation and hurt consumers. The company’s iPhones come with their own Lightning charging port, though newer models include cables that can be plugged into a USB-C outlet.
EU rules also set standards for fast-charging technology and give consumers the right to choose whether to buy new devices with or without a charger, which the EU says will save consumers $250. million euros ($266 million) per year.
Reducing electronic waste is another goal. The EU estimates that discarded or unused chargers account for 11,000 metric tons of e-waste in Europe every year.
“One in three chargers supplied with these products is never opened from its original packaging”, according to an impact assessment from the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, Saliba said.
To keep pace with the latest advances, there are also provisions to develop more advanced standards for wireless charging, which is seen as the next leap forward for charging technology, Saliba said.