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What is the universal mobile charger? A charger for the whole European Union

In a few months you might have to change your mobile charger for a universal one. The objective? To increase the useful life of your devices and reduce the amount of electronic waste we produce.

The European Parliament has once again put on the table an initiative that has been debated for years: the universal mobile charger.

If all the manufacturers could be brought on board, this proposal would be carried out in all the countries of the European Union and in some others, such as Switzerland.


What is the universal mobile charger?

Ever since the 2009 Mobile World Congress the European Commission has been trying to bring about the unification of mobile chargers within the European Union. At that time there were 30 different models of plugs and the electronic waste produced each year was excessive. This caused the scene to repeat itself over and over: your phone breaks, you buy a new one, and all those accessories that came with it are useless for your new device.

Since then, thanks to the pact with the main manufacturers, it has been possible to reduce the models to three — two for Android phones (micro USB and USB-C) and one for Apple phones (Lightning).

If this proposal were to go ahead and become effective it would be great news because of its advantages, not only personal but also environmental.


Reducing electronic waste

The first step was to separate the charger heads from the cables. In this way, when you buy a new phone, only the cable has to be included. This not only reduces the amount of electronic waste we produce, but also slightly reduces the price of smartphones.

Approximately 51,000 metric tons of electronic waste are produced each year in mobile chargers alone within the European Union. Not to mention all those we throiw away from tablets, ebooks, cameras, smart watches, etc. Imagine how much we could reduce pollution if we didn’t have to get rid of our charger every time we change phone.

Extending the useful life of devices

We’re used to changing our electronic devices (along with all their accessories) quite regularly. But what if we could use them for much longer? This initiative is not only intended to increase the life of the chargers, but also of the phones themselves.

To fight against the hegemony of the telecommunications industry, the European Union intends to implement the "right to repair" in order to make our devices more durable. This new initiative would force manufacturers to facilitate the repair of the phones, as well as to update their software so that they do not become obsolete. In addition, they should use recycled materials during manufacturing and inform customers of the true useful life of the device they are buying.

As an addition to this resolution, there is also starting to be talk of allowing buyers to return their devices if they have manufacturing defects or do not comply with what the brand promised.

Another possibility that is being considered is to bring back removable batteries in smartphones, which would simplify their repair.

Concerns arose with the realisation that most Europeans do not recycle their phones, but these proposals would reduce the electronic waste we produce, thus reducing our ecological footprint.



A universal charger would help decrease our investment in technology since we could use it for all our devices, so we don't have to spend more than necessary. In this way, every time we buy a new phone, it would come by itself in the box, without any other added accessories, which would make it cheaper.


Easy and convenient

How many times has it happened that you leave home with the battery "in the red" and when you ask for a charger, none of those offered is the one you need? If all of our phones had the same input port, this would be a problem of the past.

In addition, we could clear out that drawer (every home has one) full of chargers that we've accumulated over the years and that, of course, we no longer use or even remember what device they went with.

We'd use the same charger for our phone, e-book, tablet, smart watch, etc.


Latest generation technology

Something important to keep in mind is the fact that technology does not stop and the devices and accessories that we use now are likely to become obsolete relatively soon. Today there are already portable mobile chargers and even wireless chargers are widely used.

The standardisation of input ports could mean a great advance in technology. Manufacturers would not be able to profit from the advantages of their fast charging device, for example, so they would have to work on new functionalities for their devices that would make a difference and incline the user to opt for one brand or another.

And chargers are just one of the mobile accessories that we're used to that would start to be sold separately. Today, we're already familiar with wireless headphones, and many smartphones already come without them included.

In short, something as simple as a single plug could change the way we view technology and help us become more aware of the environmental consequences of our actions. Even actions as basic as changing phone.

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