Can DVDs be more environmentally friendly? Sure, says EcoDisc Technology, which touts an environmentally friendly DVD that it says uses 50 percent less polycarbonate, uses 50 less in energy production, and can be easily recycled.
You may soon see 4.7GB EcoDiscs replacing single-layer DVD5s, which are used as promotional, educational, children’s, enterprise, government, IT bundling, and newspaper and magazine cover-mounts. The company says it has the same same data structure and the same data layer as a 4.7GB DVD5. EcoDiscs have been in use in Europe for two years.
An EcoDisc DL (Double Layer) is currently under development and will be comparable to a 8.5GB DVD9 used for many Hollywood movies with bonus material and various language tracks The EcoDisc DL is expected to hit the market in the fall of 2009. An EcoDisc CD is also planned.
EcoDisc Technology says the EcoDisc is thinner, lighter and more flexible (see image below) than a standard DVD, and entirely free of the non-biodegradable, toxic bonder that is used to bond the two halves of a standard DVD. According to the company, the EcoDisc is pure polycarbonate, but with 50 percent less polycarbonate than a standard DVD. Polycarbonate is an oil derivative used as the main material to form the disc. The company says that by halving the amount of raw material, the manufacturing of the EcoDisc requires 50 percent less energy in production and effectively reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 52 percent. The thinner EcoDisc also reduces the transport volume, reducing freight cost and conserving fuel. And thanks to the absence of toxic bonder, it can be can be easily recycled by grinding up the polycarbonate.
“We’ve had a significant amount of interest in Hollywood because of the recyclability of the EcoDisc,” says spokesman David Langness. “It can be ground up and re-used. This has excited some of the home video divisions of the big studios, because they typically get about 20 to 25 percent returns that have to then be de-contented and sent into the waste stream and ultimately to the landfill—a big expense, and not green in any way.”
One potential drawback of the EcoDisc: Some Apple Macintosh computers in Europe have had difficulty ejecting the thinner disc. “Only a small number (less than 10 percent) of the Apple Macs previously produced with a Matshita disc drive (the one that ejects with a pin-like device) sometimes fail to eject an EcoDisc because of the thinness of the disc, which is why each EcoDisc has a Mac warning on it. Apple no longer uses that drive, so [there are] no compatibility or playability problems at all now,” says Langness.
So what’s next: Blu-ray turns Green-ray? We’re checking on it.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates