Elizabeth Warren Wants a Universal Charging Standard For Smartphones

Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, along with Bernie Sanders from Vermont, are pushing for a universal charging standard for smartphones, the senators said in a letter sent Thursday to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

In the letter, the lawmakers urge the Department of Commerce to develop a strategy to protect consumers and mitigate e-waste, following lead of the European Union on universal chargers.

“Consumers should not have to keep buying new chargers all the time for different devices. We can clear things up with uniform standards — for less expense, less hassle, and less waste,” Warren posted on Twitter.

The senators argue that not having a universal charger creates a financial burden for consumers and creates more electronic waste, writing, “In addition to unnecessary expense for American consumers, disposing of and replacing chargers generates e-waste that leads to environmental damage, including spreading toxins in water, polluting soil, and degrading air quality. Discarded and unused chargers alone generate more than 11,000 tons of e-waste annually. ”

Though the senator’s letter did not specify what that standard charger should be, the European Union’s recent ruling made the USB Type-C cable the universal standard, and though that cable covers most smartphones, tablets, earbuds, headphones, and portable speakers, it doesn ‘t cover the iPhone, which uses Apple’s exclusive Lightning connector to recharge.

However, as USA Today reports, the EU’s new ruling may force Apple to replace it.

“We cannot allow the consumer electronics industry to prioritize proprietary and inevitably obsolete charging technology over consumer protection and environmental health,” reads an excerpt from the letter.

Time will tell if the Department of Commerce will take action on behalf of the senators’ request and if Apple will adhere to the EU rolling and do away with their Lightning port.

“[The EU’s] policy has the potential to significantly reduce e-waste and help consumers who are tired of having to rummage through junk drawers full of tangled chargers to find a compatible one, or buy a new one, “the senators wrote.” The EU has wisely acted in the public interest by taking on powerful technology companies over this consumer and environmental issue. The United States should do the same. ”

Diego Ramos Bechara is a Freelance Writer for IGN, and he’s a fan of all things Star Wars, Rockstar, Naughty Dog and Batman.

You can follow him on Twitter @DRamosBechara.

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