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Acer debuts green, biodegradable notebooks

The new Aspire Timeline notebooks win approval from Greenpeace for being energy efficient and virtually free of toxic substances, making them more biodegradable.

Acer Aspire Timeline 3811TZ
Acer Aspire Timeline 3811TZ Acer

Acer is getting greener, at least according to Greenpeace.

The computer maker unveiled two new notebooks on Friday that have already received kudos from the international environmental group. The Acer Aspire 3811TZ and Aspire 3811TZG are designed to be energy efficient, recyclable, and biodegradable, thereby winning high marks from Greenpeace, which rates PCs and other electronics for their environmental friendliness.

As part of its green initiatives, Acer said it built the two new Aspires to be free of PVCs (polyvinyl chloride) and BFRs (brominated flame retardants).

PVC is a cheap but durable plastic that has been criticized by Greenpeace for not being biodegradable and for emitting toxic substances into the environment. BFRs are chemicals added to plastics to make them more flame resistance, but these have also been accused of leeching into the environment. Their use in products for babies and children has especially concerned many groups. With the exception of the power cables, all components for both Aspires are free of these toxins.

"The chemical characteristics of PVC and BFRs may generate toxic substances like dioxins and furans at products' end-of-life, therefore, the reduction of PVC and BFRs in Acer products will help protect our environment from being poisoned by electronics goods," Acer said in a statement.

The new Aspires are also designed to cut energy use--both models can save up to 40 percent of the energy consumption of traditional notebooks, providing more than 8 hours of battery life, said Acer. Further, the company designed the units to be easily recycled. With more modular parts than in traditional notebooks, users can also extend the life of the Apires by replacing certain components.

Part of Acer's Timeline series, the two notebooks are targeted as CULVs (consumer ultra-low voltage). These laptops are typically as small and light as Netbooks but deliver greater power and performance with more memory and the use of Intel's Core 2 Duo processor. (We're still working on getting specs and photos.)

Acer first promised in 2005 to eliminate PVCs and BFRs in all its products by 2009, a goal that the company has yet to achieve. Though Greenpeace has applauded the new Aspire models, the group still gave Acer only a grade of 4.5 out of 10 for environmental friendliness in a report published January 7. The company received a strong A for effort on trying to reduce toxic substances from its computers and monitors. But it scored poorly by Greenpeace for its limited recycling and disposal initiatives.


Updated 3:15 a.m. PST with photo of notebook.