European E-Waste Proposal Could Force Apple’s Hand To Add USB-C To iPhones

USB Type-C
Slowly but surely, Apple has begun trending towards a future where USB Type-C is the default charging standard, though not on its iPhone devices. That could change with the iPhone 14 (or whatever comes after the newly announced iPhone 13 series—perhaps an iPhone 13s lineup?), if the European Commission pushes through proposed legislation to make it a requirement.

This appears not to be an 'if' and rather a 'when' type scenario. The European Commission wants to see USB Type-C become the common charging format for electronic devices, calling the initiative "an important step against e-waste and consumer inconvenience." And indeed, it can be both frustrating and inconvenient to upgrade a gadget, only to find that your existing charger is not compatible.

"European consumers were frustrated long enough about incompatible chargers piling up in their drawers. We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions," European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The proposed legislation would affect all device makers, but would perhaps have the biggest impact on Apple, which would have to design its future iPhone handsets to be in compliance. Or not sell them in Europe, which would not be a financially sound decision.

Apple continues to push its proprietary Lightening connector on its iPhone devices, including the iPhone 13 devices that haven't even released to retail yet (they're available to preorder). However, Apple has implemented USB Type-C connectivity on other electronics, including the bundled wireless charger with the Apple Watch 7 series (it now uses a USB Type-C connector instead of USB Type-A), some iPad models, and its MacBooks.

The legislation does not impact wireless chargers. If Apple really didn't want to embrace USB Type-C on future iPhones, it could go completely wireless. Or it could skip the standard on the iPhone 14 and wait a bit longer, as the European Commission's proposal allows for a two-year transition period.

"We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world," Apple said in a statement.

The legislation also calls for unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of an electronic device. There's nothing to say that device makers would have to charge less for their gadgets that don't come with a charger, but the European Commission's primary goal is cut back on electronic waste, rather than make things more affordable.

From here, the proposal needs approval from the European Union Parliament before it can be enforced.