Does anyone have a cellphone charger? For an iPhone? No, for an older iPhone?

Change is in the air for mobile asset management and recycling as the European Parliament gave its approval to introduce a universal charger for cell phones and other mobile devices, including tablets.

Why the need for a universal charger?

The new regulation aims not just to make the lives of consumers more convenient but to help reduce e-waste that is worsened by having to buy different chargers for some devices. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) estimates that e-waste from computers and mobile devices comes to more than 500,000 tons each year.

Not only for mobile devices, universal chargers have been proposed for laptops as well.

While the mobile boom has OEMs continuing to produce smartphones and tablets with expanding charger variation, laptops have seemingly become an expendable electronic. The hope with a universal laptop charger is that consumers will be less likely to toss away used laptops just because the charger stopped working. Universal chargers will cut the hassle for consumers while significantly reducing the amount of e-waste related to power supplies.

The hold-up?

Don’t jump the gun just yet, not everyone is on board with this idea. Charger design is a selling point for some manufactures, making the switch to a universal version unappealing. Also, for the obvious fact that not all electronics and mobile devices are built the same, the technical realities make this dream a long way from being attainable.

Once the regulation has been passed as law, smartphone manufacturers will have until 2017 to be in full compliance. While many manufactures distributing in Europe already use micro-USB chargers, anyway, that should not be too much of a problem.

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The story might be different for Apple, however, which is quite strict about its proprietary chargers and connectors for its latest range of devices, including the iPad Air and iPhone 5S. The company might be forced to make available converters but only for the regions affected.

As an R2-certified firm, HOBI International believes a universal charger is just another major stepping stone in the war on e-waste. With more than 20 years experience in IT asset management and electronics recycling, we certainly hope this idea comes to life.