Acer Vero group brief at Computex 2023

Interview – Jerry Kao, Acer COO shares about how the Acer Vero series is championing sustainability and a greener future

At Computex 2023, the world’s premier tech trade show, Acer took most of the limelight with their diverse array of offerings at their main booth at the Nangang exhibition centre and their pavilion at Xiang Ti Avenue Plaza where they not only showcase their latest laptops from their slim Swift Edge 16 and Triton 16 but unique offerings including their SpatialLabs View 3D displays and even their Vero Connect W6m mesh router that has green attributes to its design.

Where most vendors would call it a day and leave it at that, Acer took the opportunity to share the full breadth and width of their vision of a greener, more sustainable future with a slew of innovative offerings that include e-scooters, air purifiers, the VeriSee DR AI-powered diagnostic software that can detect diabetes as well as unusual designs like the eKinekt BD 3 biking desk that can both charge a phone and help burn calories too. 

A common theme running through them all is that of sustainability and innovation, core values that Acer is championing with Jason Chen (陳俊聖), Acer Chairman and CEO giving a clarion call at his Computex 2023 keynote stating that his company’s core drive to ‘Make sustainability sustainable’ while sharing a top level view of Acer’s efforts in creating a sustainable future.

Acer Vero jason chen

Jason Chen (陳俊聖), Acer Chairman and CEO at his keynote at Computex 2023

We spoke with Jerry Kao, Chief Operating Officer and President of IT Products Business about Acer’s sustainability efforts and about how the Acer Vero series is the cornerstone of their drive to create a more sustainable, greener future for consumer tech as we know it.

Acer Vero Jerry Kao

From left: Jane Hsu, Director, Business Development, Spatial Computing Product Business, Jerry Kao, Chief Operating Officer and President of IT Products Business, James K. Lin, General Manager, Notebook Products Business and Wayne Ma, General Manager IoB Business

While the Acer Vero laptop series is the poster child of the entire line-up, the Acer Vero series also encompasses other products such as the aforementioned Connect W6m router.

What’s Acer doing to Make Sustainability Sustainable

One of Acer’s top goals towards becoming a more sustainable company is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and they’ve made significant headway thus far with the introduction of post consumer recycled plastics to in their designs spearheaded by their Vero series products that incorporate the most PCR plastic at 40% along with recyclable cardboard packaging and sleeves too. Acer has also joined the RE100 initiative with a pledge to source 100% renewable electricity by 2035.

Acer Aspire Vero packaging

The packaging of the Acer Aspire Vero is made of recyclable carboard

While the Vero series laptops and other designs take the limelight on account of their liberal usage of PCR plastic in their manufacture as well as their easy repairability factored into their design, Acer’s other product line-ups including their flagship laptops such as the Predator, Swift and Triton series also include PCR plastic though in lesser degrees based on the specific purpose it was made for.

Acer Vero Connect W6m mesh router

The Acer Vero Connect W6m mesh router uses up to 40% PCR plastic which results in its characteristic multicoloured speckled look of its chassis.

The Acer Vero series is a consolidated idea that champions sustainability with the Vero series laptops being the most visible and with the highest amount of PCR in its manufacture, incorporating 40% post-consumer recycled plastic material in their design. When we talk about the Vero series which also includes consumer appliances and other products, we not only link Vero towards the use of recycled material in its manufacturer. The reason we introduced the Acer Vero series is to show that it is a green product in terms of its design, ease of repair and other features as well,” says Jerry Kao, Chief Operating Officer and President of IT Products Business at Acer.

He adds that, “Beyond the Vero series, our product line-up includes a proportion of material in its design but we are not increasing this proportion as yet as we are optimising PCR material inclusion so as not to compromise durability and performance.

Acer Vero Series – Why not make it of pure PCR plastic?

One of the most unique aspects of the Acer Vero laptop series is their repairability with easily accessible interior layouts and swappable parts as well as their rather unusual speckled finish that has multicoloured flecks of plastic embedded within them; the result of being made of up to 40% post consumer recycled plastic. This is a trait shared with other Acer Vero series products in the line-up like the Acer Vero Connect W6m mesh router.

Of course, the logical question most people would ask is why isn’t there a laptop or product that’s made out of 100% PCR plastic? The answer? It’s simply not durable enough. Interestingly, the 40% limit of using PCR plastic in laptops isn’t picked out of a hat at random as the Vero laptop series uses the maximum amount of PCR plastic currently possible in its chassis without compromising on durability.

Acer Vero group brief at Computex 2023

There are structural concerns with incorporating too much PCR in the chassis of a laptop. We do not want to sacrifice the user experience while creating a green product so that users enjoy a high quality, sustainable design. PCR plastic isn’t as strong as new material and we are constantly striving in increasing or optimising the percentage of it in our other products not just with the Vero range such as our Vero Connect W6m mesh router and we are gradually increasing the amount while retaining quality and durability, all of which are features our customers expect in our products,” added Jerry.

Acer Vero Series – Is Sustainability sustainable across borders?

However, it isn’t simply a matter of packing as much PCR plastic into a product’s design to get brownie points for sustainability as countries differ significantly in terms of legislation on recycling which complicates matters for Acer as they may potentially offer the same Vero series product in multiple countries each of which have different legislation on recycling and the inclusion and sourcing thereof of PCR plastic in products. What may be perfectly legal in one country and gets a green light for sustainability may not necessarily be how another country sees it.

According to Acer, the PCR plastic material they acquire for inclusion in their products is certified from authorised vendors who acquire it from legitimate sources and are not from unsold Acer products as that also introduces a whole new can of worms.

“Different countries have different rules regarding recycling and it also differs on what components are being recycled as some countries have requirements such as for recycling batteries and other material but we are striving to optimise and enhance the amount of PCR we include in our products while improving sustainability,” said Jerry.

While trumpeting sustainability makes for good publicity, recycling and sustainability initiatives aren’t cheap yet belying the nature of their design, Acer’s Vero series laptops and other products retain reasonable pricing.

Acer Aspire Vero 15 side

The Acer Aspire Vero 15 uses up to 40% PCR plastic in its chassis

We aim to do right for the Earth without sacrificing our consumers. What we do is to find an optimal point (for sustainability). We don’t earn more than a regular product margin in the Vero line-up and are striving for balance as users do not want to sacrifice quality or performance,” said Jerry ,”another factor we consider is how much cost we can absorb and what the end user can afford in regards to offering sustainable products.”