IEC and USB-IF united in e-waste fight

Global single-cable solution for audio, video, data and power

By Janice Blondeau

The amount of global e-waste — discarded electrical and electronic equipment — reached nearly 49 tonnes in 2013. On average that is more than 20 kg for each person on the planet. By 2017 it is predicted that the world will produce approximately 65 million tonnes of e-waste, or a 33% increase, according to a study conducted by a partnership of United Nations organizations, industry, governments and scientists.

USB Type C USB Type-C™ cable

The IEC continues to be committed to reducing e-waste and fostering re-usability of electronic devices’ power supplies. In this context, the IEC works with the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and has formally adopted the latest USB-IF specifications for high-speed data delivery and enhanced usages for device charging, in particular, the USB Type-C™ Cable and Connector, USB Power Delivery and USB 3.1 (SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps) specifications. This means that a single cable for audio/video, data and power supply is now a reality. 

This move will advance global action to reduce e-waste and help to increase re-usability of adapters and chargers for consumer electronics. Other benefits are increased consumer convenience, enhanced product reliability and safety while allowing for future technical innovations. 

USB-IF Type-C, power delivery and USB 3.1

The USB-IF specifications were submitted to IEC Technical Committee (TC) 100: Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment, and were approved for inclusion in the IEC 62680 series of International Standards on Universal Serial Bus interfaces for data and power. The IEC specification numbers are:

In technical terms

The USB Type-C™ specification defines the physical USB Type-C cable and connector form factor, to facilitate thinner and sleeker product designs. In addition it enables enhanced usability and provides a growth path for performance enhancements for future versions of USB. 

The USB Power Delivery specification defines standardized features that support the global adoption of interoperable power supplies. It was developed to provide flexible, bi-directional power capabilities by enabling faster charging and increased power levels up to 100W. 

USB 3.1 enables speeds up to 10 Gbps, supporting audio/video for USB hosts, hubs and devices. Combined with USB Type-C, USB 3.1 and USB Power Delivery define a truly single-cable solution for audio/video, data and power delivery, building on the existing global ecosystem of USB/IEC 62680 series of International Standards compliant devices. 

Widespread adoption of these International Standards will help to reduce poorly designed or manufactured aftermarket substitutes which may affect the operation of electronic devices in compliance with regulatory requirements. 

“Simplify the mess of cables”

Writing in CNET, Stephen Shankland notes: “Once adoption picks up, USB-C can greatly simplify the mess of cables in your life. For one thing, its connector is reversible, so there's no fiddling around trying to figure out which way is up.” 

About the USB-IF

The non-profit USB Implementers Forum, Inc. was formed to provide a support organization and forum for the advancement and adoption of USB technology as defined in the USB specifications. USB-IF facilitates the development of high-quality, compatible USB devices through its logo and compliance program recognized around the globe and promotes the benefits of USB and the quality of products that have passed compliance testing. Further information, including postings of the most recent product and technology announcements, is available by visiting the USB-IF website.

USB-IF logo IEC formally adopted the latest USB-IF specifications for high-speed data delivery and enhanced usages for device charging
USB Type C USB Type-C™ cable...
USB-IF components rendering ...and connector renderings