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Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize announces judges and early buyers

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Oct 19, 2021

Fashion

Image: courtesy of Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize

The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize, worth over 1 million US dollars, has announced that Stella McCartney, Don Cheadle and Livia Firth have joined the judging panel, as well as a network of partners who will trial the winning innovations as early adopters.

The material science competition, created by Tom Ford in partnership with Lonely Whale’s 52HZ, is looking for inventors, entrepreneurs and “those invested in the fight against plastic pollution” to accelerate meaningful innovation by creating a sustainable and biodegradable alternative to thin-film plastic.

British fashion designer Stella McCartney has not only joined the judging panel but has also agreed to help scale and implement the winning thin-film plastic alternatives in the market. Stella McCartney, Tom Ford International, Dell Technologies, GoSili, HP Inc, Herman Miller, Imperial Dade, LeClub and ROQ, have all committed to trialling these sustainable materials for their packaging solutions

Each company will conduct trials to help prize competitors develop industry partnerships and validate their materials. Should the materials meet the specifications of each company, these companies will then evaluate opportunities to purchase and incorporate the material across their supply chains, added the prize organisers in a statement.

Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize announces network of partners to help scale and trial winning innovations

Stacey Feeley, chief executive at GoSili, Inc, said in a statement: “The time for sustainable change in plastic packaging is now and we must take steps to implement the solutions. 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.”

Page Motes, global head of corporate sustainability at Dell Technologies, added: “The solution to plastic waste is out there, and it’s up to companies like ours to not only find alternatives but to scale them for maximum environmental impact.

“We’re so excited to see the range of ideas presented by the finalists and look forward to trialling their solutions to help reach our 2030 sustainability goals.”

Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize closes submissions on October 24

Thin-film plastic currently makes up 46 percent of the approximately 14 million metric tons of plastic that sits on the ocean floor and is virtually impossible to extract, explains organisers of the competition. Just two products - single-use resealable sandwich storage bags and plastic polybags used by the fashion industry - represent more than 300 billion thin-film plastic bags disposed of annually.

The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize aims to enable competition finalists and adopters to bring sustainable alternatives to thin-film plastic. Since opening in May, it has received more than 170 applications from 39 countries and six continents, with submissions closing on October 24.

Competition finalists will be selected in early 2022, with winners announced in early 2023. Tom Ford and 52HZ have put together a prize purse of more than 1 million US dollars for three years of accelerator services to the competition winners after they are selected. The Plastic Innovation Prize will also offer dedicated support to help finalists reach scale and market adoption by 2025.

Lonely Whale chief executive, Dr Dune Ives, added: “With today’s announcement we are more confident than ever that the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize will be successful beyond our initial expectations.

“The addition of these incredible judges, advisors and companies willing to test the finalists’s products with the intent to purchase those materials post competition, increases the confidence of potential applicants as well as future investors.”

Stella McCartney, Don Cheadle and Livia Firth join judging panel of Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize

Finalists will be selected by a panel of leaders in the environmental and fashion industries. Joining Stella McCartney, Don Cheadle and Livia Firth will be Ellen Jackowski, chief impact officer and head of sustainable impact at HP Inc., James Andrews, founder of Authenticated Ventures, John John Florence, two-time World Champion Surfer and Olympian, and Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers America.

In addition, the prize has added two new scientific and technical advisory board members - Tom Bebien of Plastic Odyssey and Andy Johnson of ROQ.US.

Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, said: “The support provided through the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize will prove vital to accelerating safe material alternatives to petroleum-based plastics that are so detrimental to the ocean, the land, and our climate. If we are to reach our climate and waste ambition, we need new packaging solutions now.”