E-waste milestone achieved with single charger plan for notebook computers

17 Dec 2013

In a move that will dramatically cut down on e-waste, a new standard has been published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) proposing a single charger for notebook computers.

According to a spokesman for the IEC, the PC industry is mostly on side with the directive.

The real question is whether Apple – which tends to do things its own way – will get on side with the new standard.

Each year, billions of external chargers for personal computers are shipped globally, with each charger weighing 300-600 grams.

It is estimated that the total e-waste related to all kinds of chargers of ICT devices exceeds half a million tonnes each year – equal to around 500,000 cars.

However, chargers vary from machine to machine and if a users loses a charger or if a charger is damaged it is a complicated process to replace the charger.

The PC industry is hoping to enjoy the same success with a single standard for chargers as has been achieved by the smartphone industry with the mini USB charging cable.

The new IEC technical specification covers critical aspects of external chargers for notebook computers, including their connector, plug and interoperability with other devices.

The result could be that users may soon be able to invest in a single charger to power subsequent versions of personal computing devices.

Charging laptop image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years