Lawmakers urge the Department of Commerce to develop a strategy to protect consumers and mitigate e-waste, following lead of the European Union on universal chargers
Washington (June 17, 2022) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent a letter to Secretary Gina Raimondo urging the Department of Commerce to develop a comprehensive plan that will protect consumers and the environment by addressing the lack of a common charger among mobile devices. Today, consumers frequently must purchase new specialized chargers for their devices, causing financial harms for consumers and a build-up of e-waste. The lawmakers point to recent European Union (EU) legislation to require electronics manufacturers to adopt a common charger for mobile devices across the EU.
Consumers own an average of three different charging devices, and yet 40 percent report that they have been unable to locate a compatible charger to power up their device on one or more occasion. 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.
“We commend the Department of Commerce for the steps it has already taken to address these issues, and we urge you to follow the EU’s lead by developing a comprehensive strategy to address unnecessary consumer costs, mitigate e-waste, and restore sanity and certainty to the process of purchasing new electronics,” the lawmakers write in their letter to Commerce Secretary Raimondo.
The Senators continue, “[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.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE