The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is now open for entries. Entrepreneurs working on reducing plastic waste, especially thin-film plastic, can fetch $1.2 million for their innovation.
According to IUCN, humans produce and use over 300 million tons of plastic, out of which eight million ends up in ocean beds contributing to the 80% marine debris that continues to rise every year. Luckily, Tom Ford and Lonely Whale’s 52 HZ (a non-profit encouraging better ocean health through data-driven campaigns) have a plan: the Plastic Innovation Prize.
Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize
The prize aims to incentivize innovation that can help us find a remedy for rising global climate change issues. Ever since John Wesley Hyatt scored the Phelan & Collender prize for creating the first plastic bag to replace ivory used in billiard balls, innovation prizes have been used for centuries to help eradicate environmental concerns. The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize was created in the spirit to help the planet heal, just like Hyatt’s work helped elephants back in the day.
The objective: To find startups, entrepreneurs, and innovators working on finding the best alternative for thin-film plastic, which is currently the material of choice for packaging in the fashion industry.
The competition: The two-year competition follows three-year support for finalists. The grant helps finalists work on thin-film plastic alternatives and introduce adoption strategies to reduce the growing concern of thin-film plastic waste. The judges will be looking at the technical and scientific research conducted to propose the alternative.
The judging process: The judging round spans over two years, divided into technical submission and final testing rounds. In the first round, the applications are evaluated based on their scientific research, technical specifications, and innovation. Teams are required to submit through a submission template and provide details about their project along with the signed copy of the competition submission agreement. 10 finalists will be selected in this round and will share the milestone prize valued at $200,000.
In the final round, the finalists will present their work for lab testing. The winner of the prize will be based on the lab testing results and supporting materials. Three winners will share $1 million in capital and move to the accelerator phase.
View Full submission guidelines here.
Is Thin-Film Plastic Really Bad?
Thin-film plastics do not biodegrade or recycle, which means they are just around forever polluting landfills and our ocean beds. Their existence causes several concerns including:
- Plastic films contribute to ocean leakage.
- There are already 14 million metric tons of plastic in the oceans with no immediate extraction plan. By estimate, it is impossible to extract that amount of plastic.
- Over 11 million metric tons of plastic end up in oceans every year, adding to the marine debris that we can’t extract.
- The marine debris is hazardous to numerous marine species, damaging ecosystems.
With the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize, hopefully, we’ll figure out this mess very soon.
The judges for the competition include professionals from varying walks of life with Stella McCartney (designer), Don Cheadle (actor), Livia Firth (Italian film producer and the co-founder of Eco-Age), Ilen Jackowski (Chief Impact Officer and Head of Sustainable Impact at HP Inc.), John John Florence (two-time World Champion Surfer and Olympian), James Andrews (Founder at Authenticated Ventures), and Steven Kolb (Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Fashion Designers America).
Some judges are also partners in the event and intend to use the alternatives in their brand packaging. They include Tom Ford International, ROQ, HP, Stella McCartney, Dell Technologies, GoSili, Herman Miller, LeClub, and Imperial Dade.
As of today, the competition has fetched 170 applicants from 39 countries. The submissions close on October 24, with the finalist announcement scheduled for early 2022.
Here are some other brands working on sustainability innovation to help the planet.