New plans to force manufacturers of everything from cellphones and headphones to digital cameras and tablets to utilize the same universal charging connector were approved by European Union lawmakers this week: Type-C is a type of USB connector.
The new standards are expected to take effect in the fall of 2024, after which these gadgets that charge via a wired cable will have to do so using a built-in USB-C connector.
This legislation is most likely to have the greatest impact on Apple's iPhone. While the rest of the smartphone industry has slowly shifted to USB-C as a single, standardized wired charging connector.
Apple has been strong in its support for Lightning, the proprietary connector it first debuted with the iPhone 5 in 2012. The EU's laws may be the final push it needs to make progress.
Laptops are an exception because the high-wattage USB-C chargers required by these devices are less prevalent than phone chargers. Instead, they'll have 40 months, bringing us to the beginning of 2026.
If Apple wants a physical charging connector on the iPhone after 2024, the EU wants USB-C to be the only option. It can no longer rely on an external dongle, as it did a decade ago.
The most recent published drafts of the proposed regulation state that the charging USB Type-C connector must be "accessible and operable at all times," implying that a detachable dongle will not suffice.
Because the EU's laws are aimed at reducing e-waste, they include a common charging standard, which should allow more chargers to be reused instead of ending up in landfills.
According to the EU, the measures could reduce e-waste by 11,000 metric tons (over 12,000 tons) each year and save customers €250 million (about $268 million USD) on "unnecessary charger purchases."