Published 11 months ago.
About a 6 minute read.
The three winners are sourcing and scaling biobased and degradable alternatives to traditional, thin-film plastic made from fossil fuels.
Winners of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize,
the global competition powered by nonprofit Lonely
to source and scale marine-safe and biologically degradable alternatives to
traditional thin-film plastic made from fossil fuels, were revealed at the
recent Green Carpet Fashion
(GCFA) by Prize founder Tom Ford, during his acceptance speech for The
GCFA Visionary Honor.
The $1.2 million Prize Purse is a combination cash prize and direct investment
presented by title sponsors Tom Ford Beauty
and The Estée Lauder Companies, and Trousdale
Ventures — the exclusive venture capital partner of
the Prize. The Prize Purse aims to support the winners in scaling their
solutions to replace traditional thin-film plastics, which remain a challenge
and make up 46 percent of all plastic
leaking into the ocean each year.
“I started this Prize three years ago with a harrowing fear that the world our
children would inherit would no longer be a livable one,” Ford said. “I wanted
to be a part of the solution, not be an arbiter of the problem. If we did
nothing about the waste and pollution flooding our oceans, the disruption to our
planet would be irreconcilable.
“Watching the brilliant minds within this competition has given me extraordinary
hope in making the impossible possible. Our three winners have created truly
viable alternatives — alternatives that when scaled across markets and
industries will drastically change the course of the health of our planet.
“Today, as we announce the winners of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize, I
am honored, hopeful and thankful. Honored to have such great minds and partners
join me to pioneer change. Hopeful for a better tomorrow, and thankful for all
that has already been achieved.”
The GCFA Visionary
was presented by actor and Prize judge Trudie Styler in honor of Ford’s
leadership of launching the Prize with Lonely Whale to help reduce the estimated
180 billion traditional thin-film plastic
used annually by the fashion industry alone. The GCFA was co-chaired by Ford,
along with actors Cate Blanchett, Viola Davis, Simu Liu and Simone
Ashley, and model Quannah Chasinghorse in a celebration of collective
transformation and commitment to sustainability and moving the fashion industry
“It was an honor to highlight the alternative materials created by the Prize
winners to reduce the environmental impact of traditional thin-film plastic at
the Green Carpet Fashion Awards,” said Livia
Firth, activist, producer, and
founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age and the Green Carpet Fashion
Awards. “It has been inspiring to work with Mr. Ford, Lonely Whale and my
fellow judges to identify a solution for traditional thin-film plastic that has
the potential for wide-scale adoption. I look forward to seeing the fashion
industry rise up to this challenge and embrace these biologically based and
degradable alternative materials.”
— a US-based company offering seaweed-based, home-compostable replacements
for regenerative thin-film plastic packaging at scale;
Zerocircle — an India-based company making wildlife and ocean-safe
packaging materials from locally cultivated seaweed that will dissolve
harmlessly in the ocean after use;
Notpla — a London-based startup inspired by the way nature
encapsulates liquids, on a mission to make plastic waste disappear by pioneering
natural-membrane packaging that uses seaweed as an alternative to single-use
“The Winners of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize continue to inspire me
with their commitment to innovate in order to scale marine-safe alternatives,
helping to mitigate the 11 million metric tons of new plastic made from fossil
fuels that enters the ocean each year," said Lucy
Sumner, co-founder of Lonely
Whale. “The investment and ongoing partnership from Tom Ford Beauty, The Estée
Lauder Companies and Trousdale Ventures underscores the vital need for
collaboration to achieve systems change.”
A panel of extraordinary Prize judges,
informed by an esteemed group of Scientific & Technical Advisory
Board members, selected Sway,
Zerocircle and Notpla out of the eight finalists under consideration following a
rigorous nine month-long testing phase — sponsored by Nike and aligned with
international standards — to ensure their materials are biologically degradable;
minimize negative social and environmental impacts; meet industry performance
standards; and are also cost-competitive, scalable and market-ready. The testing
was led by the New Materials Institute at the University of
Georgia and the Seattle
Aquarium. The testing program included field
testing in Caribbean waters and in-lab testing led by the New Materials
Institute. The Seattle Aquarium led in situ field testing in Pacific Northwest
waters and a bespoke, laboratory-based test designed to model what would happen
in a marine mammal gut if the materials were ingested.
Finalists’ materials were also tested by major brands within their packaging
solutions and supply chains to ensure viability as a replacement to existing
non-recyclable thin-film polybags made from fossil fuels. The Early Adopter
Burton, Dell Technologies, Florence Marine
GoSili, HP Inc, Imperial Dade, J.Crew, Le Club,
MillerKnoll, Nike, Noah, Rachel Comey, ROQ.US, Stella
McCartney, Tom Ford
Beauty, Tom Ford International, Veronica Beard,
Tomorrow and Vuori.
The Prize Purse, presented by Tom Ford Beauty and The Estée Lauder Companies,
totals $1.2 million and is a combination cash prize, sponsored by the
companies, and direct investments in the Prize Winners by Trousdale Ventures.
Awards were allocated to the winners as follows: $600,000 for Sway, $250,000
for Zerocircle, and $150,000 for Notpla. A Milestone Award of $200,000 was
paid out equally to all finalists in 2022.
“As an innovation-focused investment firm in search of companies designing a
brighter future, we are thrilled to join Lonely Whale as the Prize’s exclusive
venture capital partner to invest in the three winners of the Tom Ford Plastic
Innovation Prize,” said Phillip Sarofim, founder of Trousdale Ventures.
“Accelerating access to capital for innovators like Sway, Zerocircle and Notpla
is critical to scale marine-safe alternatives to single-use plastics made from
fossil fuels. Our investment in the Prize recipients aims to further that
Following the award of the Prize Purse, Lonely Whale will launch an Innovation
Accelerator sponsored by Tom Ford Beauty and The Estée Lauder Companies,
designed to ensure Prize winners achieve widespread market adoption of their
innovative alternatives to traditional thin-film materials. Further details will
be announced in June 2023.
Brands interested in joining the Early Adopter Coalition can reach out to
[email protected] for more information.
Published Mar 20, 2023 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET