EU just passed a Common Charging Port law - and it is massive for our Planet

Current mood

A simple, clear rule; Unification of charging methods

So to make sure I got it right, I went straight to the source — AKA EU Parliament, to understand what the law is really about. It says;

  • First, it basically says that only one single charger will be allowed in the EU zone for frequently used small and medium-sized portable electronic devices. Same rule will apply to laptops with an extension of 40 more months for the strict enforcement (late 2026) -> Unification of ports
  • Second, the charging speed is expected to be harmonised for devices that support fast charging -> Unification (or at least orientation) of innovative technologies
  • Also, buyers can choose whether to purchase new device with or without charging device, and the interoperability is naturally on the way -> Unification of consumer “business cases”
  • Finally, this is to be enforced for all manufacturers, meaning it does not apply for EU players only -> Unification for all players no matter the origin

Great news for consumers, but…

For the users, it’s just plain great news. Enabling unified charging ports means simplification. No more low battery during parties because your friends have an iPhone and you have a Samsung!

A certain vision of Hell

A structural change for brands and manufacturers

If it’s being plain good news for Consumers, well, that’s a totally different story for Brands & Manufacturers.

  • Less money in; as consumers won’t have to purchase branded chargers. When you think about it, it might be good news for them as their price should not change much (not at all?) even though they will remove the cable. To be determined in the future…
  • A door opening to system interoperability; This is quite a taboo in the electronics and smartphone operating system industries (so both hardware and software). For companies with a big name like Apple, this interoperability jeopardises the entire “all over the house” suite of devices and systems.
  • Less innovation; Technology goes more and more wireless and enforcing USB-C is not following this trend. Unification is definitely good but is EU somehow restraining innovation? Maybe, maybe not. Hard to say, but probably that this is not the groundbreaking innovation the world absolutely needs to make the Earth a better place. Sorry Apple, but your statement is, though understandable, not aligned with where innovation should be at.
  • A new Disruption effect”; The consumer electronics space is driven by innovation “rom within the segment” and creating needs for consumers. Here, for one of the first time, this — very young — industry is bearing the burden of external pressure. Obsolescence (see below in the “Environment” section) is concerning more and more governments and people, for the best. In my humble opinion, the consumer electronics segment must get used to this kind of law. And this one might not be the hardest to cope with!

A low-hanging fruit for the planet, to pave the way for bigger changes

In terms of environmental impact, there are two ways to see it;

  • Direct and immediate impact; less e-waste
  • Longer term impact; a structural change for eco-designed devices
Weird spaghetti or tons of electronic waste?

A quick comparison with the new EVs law

To reflect on the “end of thermal engines” decided last week as well in EU, this common charging port seems absolutely insignificant. But when you think this through, I think it’s better news. Why;

  • It’s done and dusted! When you carefully read the EU statement, the EVs (Electric Vehicles) law has not been accepted yet, far from it
  • It’s 100% good for the planet! I have very mixed feeling about EVs as I basically think it’s a way to shift from one addiction (oil) to another (metals). My personal idea set aside, EVs will never be fully green as you have to extract “stuff” from the Earth’s crust. Nobody can say otherwise. This common charging port law is not as ambitious but at least it’s not vicious. The impact is real, no matter the POV or studies.
  • It’s a first step towards an exciting circular world, and again, there is nothing to oppose to this! Forcing a manufacturing industry to go more circular with a teensy-weensy of regulations (that’s my French genes speaking probably) should not be a taboo subject. Especially when you open doors to lean innovations (AKA process/governance innovation, not technological innovation).

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Thibaut Meurgue-Guyard

Thibaut Meurgue-Guyard

Co-Founder @ Found & Seek — Sustainable IT consultant — Digital leader @ The Matcha Initiative