Tom Ford and 52HZ, a strategy and creative agency that helps nongovernmental organizations, brands and people change the world, said today the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is now accepting submissions from inventors, entrepreneurs and those invested in the fight against plastic pollution to accelerate meaningful innovation around a replacement for thin-film plastic.
The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is the only competition focused exclusively on material science innovation to encourage the creative development and adoption of affordable and scalable alternatives to thin-film plastic.
The two-year competition, followed by three years of support for competition finalists, offers a prize purse total of $1.2 million. The prize aims to offer dedicated support to help finalists reach scale and market adoption by 2025, creating an inflection point in the fight against plastic pollution.
“Thin-film plastic enters our lives for a minute, yet continues on as waste, never truly disappearing,” said Dr. Dune Ives, chief executive officer of Lonely Whale, which recently launched 52HZ. “The origin story of plastic starts with an innovation prize and the solution to the plastic crisis can be found in the tale of its creation. As a campaign organization capable of catalyzing global change on a massive scale, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is an opportunity to create another new beginning and promote solutions commensurate with the plastic pollution problem.”
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Lonely Whale was founded by Adrian Grenier and Lucy Sumner in 2015. Lonely Whale’s campaigns have reached more than one billion readers, listens and viewers through activations, social and traditional media.
Today, thin-film plastic comprises 46 percent of the about 11 million metric tons of plastic that leaks into the ocean annually, a figure that’s expected to nearly triple to 29 million metric tons by 2040. Just two products — single-use resealable sandwich storage bags and plastic poly bags used by the fashion industry — represent more than 300 billion thin-film plastic bags disposed of annually. The Tom Ford prize will enable competition finalists to bring biologically degradable thin-film plastic alternatives to market, so the ocean does not continue to pay the price of these products.
“Sustainability is a key critical issue in our lives now,” said Tom Ford. “Plastic pollution is taking one of the greatest tools on our environment and thin-film plastic makes up 46 percent of all plastic waste entering our ocean. We will continue to advocate for the adoption of the winning innovations and will do whatever we can to turn the tide of plastic pollution and thin-film plastic specifically. We need to work towards finding a solution before it’s too late to save our environment.”
Ford, who in addition to being a designer and chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, is an award-winning screenwriter, producer and film director.
A panel or industry-leading judges, led by Ford, will vet and stress-test submission to ensure they have a positive impact on the environment, and they are also scalable and market-ready by 2025. The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize Investment Alliance will be chaired by investor Matt Grossman.
Judges include Andrew Forrest AO, founder and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group and Minderoo Foundation; Audrey Choi, chief marketing officer and chief sustainability officer at Morgan Stanley; Danni Washington, science communicator and founder of The Big Blue & You, honorary doctor of science; Don Cheadle, actor and filmmaker; Livia Firth, founder and creative director of Eco-Age; Melati Wijsen, activist and founder of Youthopia and Bye Bye Plastic Bags; Saskia van Gendt, head of sustainability at Rothy’s; Stella McCartney; Susan Rockefeller, documentary filmmaker and founder of Musings Magazine; Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, and True Styler, actress, film producer and director.
Judges will work with a panel of scientific and technical experts from fields such as materials science, ocean health and product development, such as Dr. Ramani Narayan, university distinguished professor at Michigan State University in the department of chemical engineering and materials science. To ensure that the thin-film alternatives sourced through the prize are capable of solving the impact on the ocean, the prize evaluation criteria includes a comprehensive set of lab and field testing analyses conducted in partnership with the Bioseniatic Laboratory at the UGA New Materials Institute.
Submissions to the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize are open today through Oct. 24. Information is available at plasticprize.org.
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