If the EU gets its way, there will be a common charging port on your mobile devices soon. Plans are afoot to standardise and do away with the pesky variety of cables and chargers clogging up our lives. The justification is to reduce waste. A noble cause.
Yet I’m not convinced plans to “force” phone companies to adopt a single port technology is the right answer. Over the past 3 years I’ve bought several mobile devices for testing and personal reasons, and the charging ports all fall into 3 camps:
The latter is also found on my camera, tablet stylus, portable fans, electric razor and portable power block.
On my desk is a 4 port charger with cables for each format, plus an old Apple cable for a much loved iPod Nano that refuses to die.
In a desk drawer is a collection of a dozen spare cables and chargers because every device came with its own, and I still have left-overs from devices long since recycled.
I argue the issue isn’t having a common charging port, the industry seems to have that more or less under control. The issue is the insistence each new device comes with a brand new charger and cable. Each new device seems to add 1 new charger and 1 new cable to the pile of forgotten waste in our drawers, and the expending of valuable energy and resources to get it there.
For those buying their first device of course there will be a need to sell a charger and cable (unless they have one in a wall socket or extension cable as seems to be increasingly popular). These sales are few and far between when compared to the market for upgrades, replacements and additions to our personal technology stacks.
A small number of manufacturers have gone down this route. Even Apple omits a charger from some products. More should be encouraged to ditch the charger.
This is the true source of waste, not the shape of the hole on the phone. Let’s fix the right problem.