Bye-bye, Lighting port. Senate Democrats called on the Commerce Department to implement a common charging port for smartphones.
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey and Bernie Sanders asked that the U.S. establish uniform charging accessory standards, arguing that planned obsolescence in consumer electronics causes financial stress and environmental harm. The letter comes on the heels of the EU's decision to require USB-C charging ports to be standard by 2024 for small- and medium-sized electronic devices sold there. The U.S. letter isn't specifically requesting USB-C for a standard, but it requests an open-ended “comprehensive strategy" developed by the Commerce Department.
The letter cites the a study from the European Commission, which reports that on average, consumers own around three mobile phone chargers, but 38% of the time can't charge their device because they don't have a compatible charger on hand.
"In our increasingly digital society, consumers frequently must pay for new specialized charging equipment and accessories for their different devices," the letter read. "This is not merely an annoyance; it can be a financial burden."
The EU's decision alone will save 11,000 tons of e-waste annually. The letter argues that implementing this strategy in the U.S. could do even more. "When electronics are not disposed of properly, e-waste can spread toxins in water, pollute soil, and degrade the air we breathe," the letter reads. "This is a global issue, with a lasting impact on our environment and public health. The U.S. government must respond."