Europe to cut on e-Waste with common phone charger

March 14, 2014 // By Julien Happich
Europe to cut on e-Waste with common phone charger
By voting on an update to EU radio equipment laws, Members of the European Parliament rallied in favour of one standard charger to be used for all mobile phones sold in the EU.

Only approved at a draft stage, the modernised Radio Equipment Directive which still has to be formally approved by the Council, could lead to the introduction of a common charger within three years.

The draft directive lays down harmonised rules for placing radio equipment, including cellular telephones, car-door openers and modems, on the market. The rules aim to keep pace with the growing number and variety of radio equipment devices and ensure that they do not interfere with each other while respecting essential health and safety requirements, explains the European Commission in a statement.

The call for a common charger is expected to simplify the use of radio equipment (including mobiles), possibly cutting tens of thousands of tonnes of electronic waste annually while also reducing manufacturing costs.

Barbara Weiler, a German socialist MEP and rapporteur on the dossier, said in a statement: “I am especially pleased that we agreed on the introduction of a common charger. It will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually.”

Since the European Commission’s official statement puts the emphasis on e-Waste reduction, would this common charger be restrictive, in effect discarding additional charging solutions and truly simplifying the mobile ecosystem?

Or would this common charger capability only be a simplification option on top of new evolving wireless charging standards (all come with a wall-plug) that various companies are putting forward?  

At this stage, no technical specifications have been issued yet, the European Commission only puts this forward as an idea to work on and this idea in the making could bring together manufacturer delegates to agree on a specification while also taking the consumers’ view into account.

The common charger could be based on the 'Micro USB' interface, which is already widely used to connect computers and laptops to other devices, including mobile phones.

MEPs also backed provisions in the directive that would give the authorities additional market surveillance

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