In a world shifting focus towards more sustainable products, research and development is crucial in order to find viable alternatives to plastic. Innovation can come from surprising sources when it’s flushed out with the proper support. With this in mind, Tom Ford and Lonely Whale’s 52HZ teamed up to launch the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize. 

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A moving gif showing a sandwich in a plastic container, oranges in a plastic bag and a blanket wrapped in plastic

The challenge is to create new packaging solutions to replace thin-film plastic, which makes up around 46% of all ocean plastic pollution. This material science competition received over 140 applications from 39 countries on six continents. It’s a global effort to create solutions for a problem that affects us all. 

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“The time for sustainable change in plastic packaging is now, and we must take steps to implement the solutions,” said Stacey Feeley, CEO GoSili, Inc. “Through partnerships, challenges, science and curiosity, we push each other to innovate and hold each other accountable to the world around us. We are excited to support the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation finalists and cannot wait to see what the future holds to replace plastic pollution.”  

For any system to really work, it needs the proper funding and support, especially when trying to launch a new product to the market. So in addition to simply promoting a competition, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize provides industry leaders who have already committed to trying the winning materials. TOM FORD International, Stella McCartney, Dell Technologies, GoSili, HP Inc, Herman Miller, Imperial Dade, LeClub and ROQ are all on board to complete trials with the newly-developed packaging materials. 

A person holding up a plastic film to their face

Tom Ford and 52HZ pulled together judges with a stake in the project who understand the problem and have pledged to vet submissions for viability and benefit to the environment. Some of these judges include: Don Cheadle, Livia Firth, Stella McCartney, Ellen Jackowski, Chief Impact Officer and Head of Sustainable Impact at HP Inc. and James Andrews, Founder of Authenticated Ventures. There will also be Scientific and Technical Advisory Board Members Tom Bebien of Plastic Odyssey and Andy Johnson of ROQ.US, a team that will monitor submissions and evaluate them to ensure they are scalable and market-ready by 2025.

“The development of new, more sustainable materials like those generated by the Prize is key to achieving our goal of 75% product and packaging circularity by 2030,” said Ellen Jackowski, Chief Impact Officer and Head of Sustainable Impact, HP Inc. “The Prize not only incentivizes extraordinary, science-based innovation — it provides a path to replace thin-film plastic and scale viable alternatives that will help protect our planet.” 

There are winners all around in this competition. While the planet is the obvious one, there is a purse prize of over $1 million for contestants. Once selected, prize winners will benefit from ongoing support to further test and develop the product through these companies. The process essentially creates a customer base while the product is still in development, adding to the chances for a successful launch.

Competition finalists will be selected in early 2022, with winners announced in early 2023 and the Plastic Innovation Prize will offer dedicated support to help finalists reach the market by 2025, “creating an inflection point in the fight against plastic pollution.” 

+ TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize

Images via TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize