The European Union’s new rules regarding chargers for electronic devices, ostensibly aimed at reducing e-waste, might inspire a similar set of changes in the United States according to a recent letter from two senators from Massachusetts.
Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren largely echoed the aims of the new EU laws, citing waste reduction and a more consumer-friendly market approach as two major reasons for implementing such a standard.
Citing the EU laws specifically, the senators note: “[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 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.”
How bad is the problem? The letter says that, on average, consumers have at least three different charging cables. That adds up really fast and making a universal standard could cut into this somewhat. And it isn’t just the fact that it takes up more space but also that there may be some toxic chemicals involved.
“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.”
Of course, some people don’t like for the government to get involved in market matters and, outside of that, companies tend to like to have their options open to them in this regard. Whether anything will change or not is one thing but there is at least a model for it in this case with the EU.
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