Could the U.S. Adopt a Uniform Standard for Charging Cables?

The E.U. recently did something similar

Charging cables
Lightning and USB-C cables.
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you’ve been using a smartphone for almost any length of time, you’ve probably found yourself with a number of perfectly good cables that are no longer compatible with your current phone. This is especially true if you’ve gone from using an iPhone to an Android or vice versa, but even older generations of either technology have cycled through different forms of plugs.

At a point in history where a growing number of people would prefer to reduce waste, this phenomenon can seem excessive or unnecessary. As reported by NPR and others, the European Union is set to require that all smartphones and similar devices use a USB-C charging port — a similar move to what the E.U. has required when it comes to electric vehicle charging stations.

Could we see something like this — a point in time when the same cable works for your iPhone and your Android tablet — in the United States? According to recent reports, a group of Senators is working towards that goal.

The Verge reports that a trio of Senators — Ed Markey, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — recently wrote a letter addressed to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. The letter’s goal? To get the Commerce Department to look into following the E.U.’s lead on this matter, with the goal of saving consumers money and reducing the amount of e-waste moving forward.

“The EU has wisely acted in the public interest by taking on powerful technology companies over this consumer and environmental issue,” the senators wrote in their letter. “The United States should do the same.” Whether or not this will result in any policy changes remains to be seen, but — as I type this with a series of drawers full of old chargers in front of me — it’s not hard to see their point.

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