OPINION: Acer opened up its Computex 2023 keynote by suggesting Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan where the event took place, could be underwater as soon as 2050.
It was a powerful warning to kick off the show, as Acer spent the remainder of the presentation talking about sustainability and what efforts the company is taking to reach its goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2035 and achieving net-zero by 2050.
Generally, when I hear such sustainability targets from tech companies, I’m inclined to roll my eyes. It may be great publicity to announce these targets, but it all means nothing if little is done to make the production line more eco-friendly in the meantime.
But to Acer’s credit, it’s gone big on sustainability at Computex 2023, showcasing yet another eco-friendly Vero laptop, while also expanding the sustainable range to additional product categories.
TAITRA (the organisers of Computex) awarded Acer a sustainability award for the new Acer Aspire Vero 15. Compared to preceding Vero laptops, Acer increased the percentage of PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled) material used for the laptop’s main body from 30% to a remarkable 40%.
Many laptop manufacturers would see that as enough to win over the eco-minded crowd, but Acer hasn’t stopped there. The keycaps and adapter casing are made up of 50% PCR, and the trackpad has been crafted from OceanGlass, which is what Acer calls a material made from ocean-bound plastic waste.
Even the packaging has been taken into consideration, consisting of 100% recycled paper and up to 90% recycled cardboard.
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Acer produced 30% fewer CO2 emissions than typical for a laptop when making the Aspire Vero 15 too, showing that the company has looked for as many ways as possible to make its production line more sustainable, rather than relying solely on recycled materials.
The sustainable Vero range was originally limited to laptops, but Acer has since expanded it to other gadgets. The Acer Vero smart projector is made up of 50% PCR plastic, while a 30,000 year lifespan ensures you shouldn’t need to replace it anytime soon. Acer also suggests the projector consumes 48% less power than the average lamp-based projector.
And then there’s the new Acer Connect Vero W6m router, which consists of 30% PCR plastic in its casing and features an Eco mode which will detect when connected devices are idle to optimise power consumption accordingly.
Acer has already launched an all-in-one desktop PC, mouse and various monitors in the eco-friendly Vero range too – that means it’s possible to get your home office almost entirely kitted out with sustainable Acer-made technology
There are areas that Acer could improve, however. Vero is just one of many ranges that Acer offers, and so the company is a long way from making all of its devices sustainable. In fact, its flagship device at Computex 2023 was the Acer Swift Edge 16, which is made from magnesium alloy rather than PCR plastic. I can understand why Acer is hesitant to switch over completely to PCR, as a magnesium alloy is not only sturdier, but considerably lighter too – the 16-inch Swift Edge weighs a remarkably light 1.23kg compared to the 15-inch Acer Aspire Vero that comes in at a heftier 1.8kg.
Magnesium is at least considered to be one of the most eco-friendly metals in the world, but it still has a larger carbon footprint than PCR. Acer is keen to give the customer as much choice as possible without forcing them to adopt eco-friendly designs, which makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. But if Acer is serious about hitting its ambitious targets, it may have some tough decisions to make in the future.
Nevertheless, Acer deserves a lot of credit as it seemingly leads the sustainable push in the consumer laptop space. While most companies at Computex 2023 wanted to focus on the exciting developments of artificial intelligence, it was admirable and refreshing that Acer focused on sustainability instead.
I hope more technology companies are inspired by Acer’s remarkable progress for sustainable products, as just like its CEO Jason Chen suggested at the start of his presentation, the planet could suffer dire consequences in the not-so-distant future if we don’t take immediate action.