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Apple says EU’s universal charger proposal would create ‘unprecedented electronic waste’

Forcing Apple to adopt a universal charger would create “an unprecedented volume of electronic waste” and inconvenience millions of people, the tech giant has said.

It comes after the European Parliament said a charger should be introduced that fits all mobile phones and portable devices.

Apple hit back at the proposal, saying it would “stifle innovation” and cause a headache for customers who use its bespoke “Lightning” connector.

“More than one billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector, in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers,” an Apple spokesman said.

He said the change would disrupt “hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories… creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users”.


Old chargers generate an estimated 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste per year and the EU believes a “one size fits all” approach would make customers’ lives easier and help the environment,

Image: Phone chargers come in many shapes and sizes – much to Europe’s annoyance

In 2009, a voluntary pledge was signed by the likes of Apple, Nokia and Samsung to make chargers compatible with the micro-USB standard.

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While many went on to adopt micro-USB, Apple went ahead with its own Lightning port in 2012 and sold a micro-USB adaptor instead.

Some phone-makers have now evolved to USB-C, which charges faster than micro-USB.

However, Apple only moved to USB-C on the iPad Pro and MacBook laptops, meaning the changes could affect it disproportionately.

“We do not believe there is a case for regulation given the industry is already moving to the use of USB Type-C through a connector or cable assembly,” Apple continued.

“This includes Apple’s USB-C power adapter which is compatible with all iPhone and iPad devices.

“This approach is more affordable and convenient for consumers, enables charging for a wide range of portable electronic products, encourages people to re-use their charger and allows for innovation.”

Members of the European Parliament are planning to vote on the proposal at a future session.


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