Democratic senators want the U.S. to follow in the footsteps of the European Union and abandon Apple’s proprietary Lightning charger to a universal USB-C charger. It’s a bold and powerful move on paper, but in reality, it’s a complete fluff.
Sense. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren, both Massachusetts Democrats and Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) sent one Letter On Thursday, June 16, the Commerce Secretary argued that smartphone and tablet consumers who own both USB-C and Apple chargers impose financial burdens on them – especially when they live in a family where family members, roommates or partners prefer Android devices. (And vice versa). Furthermore, it increases the damage to the environment because of the e-waste that accumulates as a result. They outlined the EU’s plan to have iPhones with USB-C by 2024 and called on the Commerce Department to come up with a strategy to convert it.
“The EU has acted wisely in the public interest by embracing powerful technology companies on these consumer and environmental issues,” the senators wrote. “The United States should do the same.”
The senators noted that of the 53.6 million metric tons of man-made e-waste in 2019, 11,000 tons of chargers were discarded after old phone and tablet models became obsolete, exacerbating the climate crisis. They believe that making the USB-C charger a mobile industry standard would be a boon for consumers and help mitigate the effects of climate change.
Although the senators claim that USB-C is a universal standard charger in appearance and impressive sound, they come too late. Just a few days ago, the EU voted to make USB-C a common charger in its territory – forcing companies like Apple to adopt USB-C charging in the very near future. Although that law only applies to the EU region, it is foolish to think that Apple will create an iPhone model for the EU with USB-C, while offering other markets with Lightning. If a part of the world claims USB-C from a company, it will almost certainly use USB-C everywhere.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate are urging the Commerce Department to implement its own standard charging system, a great effort to save our money and the planet. However, it does not matter whether they express their views or not. If EU policy takes effect within two years, Apple (and other brands) will be forced to use USB-C anyway.