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Major Milestone: Single Charger for Notebook Computers Will Significantly Reduce e-waste
IEC Publishes First Globally Relevant Technical Specification
New York  December 18, 2013


Originally published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

IEC, the international standards and conformity assessment body for all fields of electrotechnology, recently announced the publication of the first globally relevant Technical Specification for a single external charger for a wide range of notebook computers and laptops.

Each year billions of external chargers are shipped globally. Power supplies for notebooks weigh typically around 300 but sometimes up to 600 grams. They are generally not usable from one computer to the next. Sometimes they get lost or break, leading to the discarding of computers that may still work perfectly well.

It is estimated that the total e-waste related to all kinds of chargers of ICT devices (Information and Communication) exceeds half a million tons each year; basically the equivalent of 500,000 cars. This new IEC Technical Specification covers critical aspects of external chargers for notebook computers, their connector and plug, as well as safety, interoperability, performance and environmental considerations.

The new IEC Technical Specification opens the way to a significant and very real reduction of e-waste related to power supplies and will allow consumers to use a single external charger with a wide range of notebook computers. This will also make it much easier for external chargers to be reused or replaced when needed. IEC work ensures that the charger is reliable and safe to use, and that it provides the required level of performance.

The IEC cooperates with a wide range of organizations and continuously watches out for relevant technology developments, bringing them on board as soon as possible.

In 2011, the IEC published the first globally relevant Standard for a universal charger for data enabled mobile phones (www.iec.ch/newslog/2011/nr0311.htm). This work was accomplished in the IEC with relevant input by CENELEC and ITU-T, with which the IEC has a long-standing cooperation agreement (NB (EU only): today, 82% of European Standards in electrotechnology are identical or based on IEC International Standards). With a single power supply covering a wide range of notebook computers, the IEC has achieved another important milestone in the reduction of e-waste.

U.S. Plays Major Role in IEC TC 100
The U.S.’s David Carlton Felland, chief engineer at WUWM 89.7 FM - Milwaukee Public Radio, has served as the chair of IEC Technical Committee (TC) 100, Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment, since November 2010.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) organizational member and accredited standards developer, serves as the U.S. National Committee (USNC)-approved U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to IEC TC 100.

IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk said, “The IEC International Standards for the universal charger for mobile phones has been widely adopted by the mobile phone industry and is already starting to help reduce e-waste. A single power supply covering a wide range of notebook computers is the next step in lowering e-waste and its impact on our planet. I am proud that the IEC has yet again managed to make the best possible technical solution available.”

The IEC Technical Specification 62700: DC Power supply for notebook computer, comprises the input of experts from many countries around the world and has been accepted by the National Committees participating in IEC TC (Technical Committee) 100: Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment.

Even though some organizations are discussing and examining the merits of a universal power adapter covering numerous ICT (Information and Communication Technology) devices, due to the technical realities, this is likely still a long way from being achievable. Therefore, rather than chasing a dream that remains out of reach today, the IEC has leveraged its global technical expertise to bring concrete solutions to the market place.

Vreeswijk commented, “The IEC is all about bringing concrete, feasible solutions to the market place. We welcome input from many sides to make our work as broadly relevant as possible. The results are state-of-the art tools that allow policy makers to initiate achievable and effective energy-efficiency and waste-management programmes. They also enable industry, research institutions and other stakeholders to consistently develop better, more environmentally friendly products.”

About the IEC
The IEC is a global organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies – collectively known as “electrotechnology.” It brings together 164 countries and over 10,000 experts on the global level. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) serves as the U.S. representative to the IEC via the U.S. National Committee (USNC).


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