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NEW DELHI : India will be adopting USB-C type as a common charging port for smart devices, with stakeholders reaching a consensus at a meeting of an inter-ministerial task force, consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said on Wednesday.

The government held wide-ranging consultations to standardize charging ports for all compatible smart devices, but it is yet to reach a decision on chargers for low-cost feature phones.

With universal chargers consumers will no longer need a different charger every time they purchase a new device. Besides, the move will also reduce massive amounts of e-waste.

In 2021, India is estimated to have generated 5 million tonnes of e-waste , only behind China and the US, according to an ASSOCHAM-EY report, Electronic Waste Management in India.

“During the meeting, a broad consensus emerged among stakeholders on adoption of USB Type-C as a charging port for electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Further, it was deliberated that a different charging port may be adopted for feature phones,” Singh added. Many advanced economies are moving toward standard charging devices and ports. The EU seeks to make USB-C port standard for all devices. On 7 June, the EU passed provisional legislation requiring smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone, to be equipped with the USB-C port for wired charging by mid-2024, according to a Bloomberg report.

A key concern for India is that once the EU makes the shift, obsolete phones and equipment could be dumped here, a second official said, requesting anonymity.

Wednesday’s meeting was attended by representatives of Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology, Confederation of Indian Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.

The ministry of consumer affairs has also formed a sub-group to examine the feasibility of uniform charging ports for wearable devices like smart watches.

Stakeholders agreed on a phased roll-out of uniform charging port for “effective implementation and easy adoption”, the official said. “Industry should overcome inertia in adopting a uniform charging port for consumer welfare, and prevention of avoidable e-waste.”

An impact study is likely to be conducted by the environment ministry to “assess and examine” the impact of the changeover to a uniform charging port on e-waste generation, he added.

“Globally, the shift is towards USB-C ports, so it would make sense for us to adopt it. One important point is that the rate of technological obsolescence in the electronic industry is very high and what is in today, is out tomorrow,” said Ajay Garg, member, Electronic Industries Association of India.

The Centre is of the view that India should move to two types of standard charging devices, one for smart phones and portable devices such as laptops and tablets, and another for feature phones, which have a bigger market share, the consumer affairs secretary had told industry representatives while inviting them for consultations.

With a policy for universal chargers in place, officials hope, phone-makers will deduct the cost of chargers in product packaging, as most consumers will have the requisite chargers and charging accessories.

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By Ajay Kumar Verma

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