Acer unveils greenest laptops yet in new Aspires

Acer launched two new laptops today labeled by the environmental group, Greenpeace, as being virtually free of two toxic substances, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFR).

Greenpeace praised the Acer Aspire 3811TZ and Aspire 3811TZG as part of a program to encourage companies to produce more environmentally friendly products. The laptops are both part of Acer's Timeline series of slim, light laptops that use Intel's ULV (ultra low voltage) Core 2 Duo microprocessors for long-lasting batteries.

Aside from being free of PVCs and BFRs, with the exception of their power cables, the two laptops are also designed to reduce energy consumption and can be recycled, the company said in a statement.

"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.

PVC is a cheap, durable plastic used widely in electronics casings and cables that has been targeted by environmental groups for not being biodegradable as well as for leakage, including gases given off from some products. The E.U. banned some additives used to make PVC more flexible over concerns about their use in children's toys. BFRs are used in plastics and textiles to prevent them from catching fire, but in recent years some studies have found the chemicals accumulate in the environment and can be absorbed by some animals and passed on to their young. BFRs are used heavily in the electronics industry for fire prevention.

Despite the effort in the new laptops, Acer is behind in its own environmental plan. The company in 2005 pledged to prohibit the use of PVC, BFRs and phthalates, chemicals used to soften PVC, in all products by 2009.

"Acer is working toward this goal. Currently we don't have a new target date," Acer said in a statement.

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