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Common chargers for smartphones from next June; hearables, wearables exempt for now

All new smartphones and tablets sold in India from next June must sport a standard charging port, so that a single charger and cable can be used to power multiple devices. The rule will come to laptops too from 2026, but won’t apply to basic phones and wearables for now, three people aware of the matter said.

The Union IT ministry may direct all device makers in the coming weeks to use uniform charging ports, said one of the three people, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity.

“USB-C or Type C charging port will be made mandatory for smartphones and tablets from June next year. Feature phones or basic phones, hearables and wearables will be kept out for now,” the second person added.

The push for a standard cable and charger for multiple devices, initiated by the European Union in 2022, aims to save costs and reduce the growing electronic waste.

For laptops, the USB-C port mandate will kick in from the end of 2026, the person added, adding the deadlines were decided after discussions with the industry and manufacturers. “India is adopting the same standards as EU, but giving six months’ additional time to allow all players to ensure compliance,” the first person said.

The proposal follows a similar playbook adopted by the European Union, with the Union consumer affairs ministry recommending Type-C ports for all devices. “All phone makers will be legally bound to adhere to the norms, and any flouting of these norms will attract penalties as per the Consumer Protection Act,” a third person said. The IT ministry order may include a clause for makers of basic phones and other devices to voluntarily incorporate Type C ports, the person added.

The Type C charging port connects with a Type C cable which has the same connector at both ends, so it can be plugged in from either side. While consumers can save costs by using a single cable and charger for multiple devices, manufacturers will also gain as their supplies and sourcing would become streamlined to a single component as opposed to multiple components, specific to the charging port. The move will also help slow the growth of e-waste, the person added.

Leading phonemaker Xiaomi welcomed the development. “This is a customer-centric and environmentally conscious move that reduces e-waste. With a single charger and cable, consumers can conveniently power multiple devices, reducing the hassle of carrying separate chargers. This uniform standard also streamlines service and repair processes for companies, eliminating complications arising from diverse charging interfaces,” said Muralikrishnan B, president, Xiaomi India.

“Oppo India is aligned with the Indian government on introduction of uniform charging port for electronic devices. This uniformity can reduce costs for consumers and contribute towards curtailing avoidable e-waste,” said Savio D’Souza, director of product communications, Oppo India.

“E-waste management aligns deeply with Oppo India’s green initiatives. As users discard fewer incompatible chargers, the amount of e-waste entering landfills decreases, which mitigates the harmful effects on our ecosystems. Standardisation also leads to more efficient recycling processes, as fewer types of materials need to be sorted and processed,” D’Souza added.

Queries emailed to spokespersons of the IT and consumer affairs ministries, as well as device makers Vivo, Samsung, Apple, and the India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) remained unanswered.

“This step was long overdue. It was being discussed at the highest level internationally for more than a decade. It is a matter of relief that all mobile manufacturers have agreed to have a uniform mobile charger,” said Ashim Sanyal, CEO of Consumer VOICE, a non-government organization.

“When the world is dealing with an e-waste crisis, switching to a uniform mobile charger will help in cutting e-waste. It will also help companies in cutting costs besides reducing the burden on consumers of buying chargers along with mobile phones,” Sanyal added.

“Currently, devices use various charging ports, requiring separate chargers for each, making management and maintenance problematic. The government’s move will reduce the need to produce excessive chargers and cables, addressing environmental concerns about recycling,” said Dr. Suneel Pandey, director of circular economy and waste management at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

“Often, the device is at the end of its life, but the charger is still functional and can be used. This will cut down on unnecessary waste generation,” Pandey added. Livemint

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