Tom Ford starts search for eco-friendly alternatives to thin-film plastic
New York-based fashion brand Tom Ford has announced that submissions are now open for the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize, a competition challenging entrepreneurs and inventors to help fight plastic pollution by coming up with biologically degradable alternatives to thin-film plastic.
Launched in collaboration with 52HZ, a strategy and creative agency established by sustainability-focused incubator Lonely Whale to support NGOs and brands in their efforts to do good, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize offers a purse total of over $1 million.
The Prize is a two-year competition, followed by three years of support for finalists. The initiative brings together a coalition of investors, major brands and other strategic partners with the aim of helping competition finalists achieve scale and market adoption for their innovations by 2025.
According to Tom Ford, thin-film plastic currently accounts for 46% of the approximately 11 million metric tons of plastic that enter the Earth’s oceans every year, a total which is expected to triple to 29 million metric tons over the next 20 years. Together, single-use resealable sandwich bags and the plastic polybags used by the fashion industry represent more than 300 billion thin-film plastic bags disposed of annually.
“Sustainability is a key critical issue in our lives now,” said designer and CFDA chairman Tom Ford in a release published by his brand. “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.”
The Plastic Innovation Prize will be judged by a panel of key industry figures led by Ford himself. The panel will vet and stress-test submissions, assessing to what extent they have a positive impact on the environment, as well as their scalability and market-readiness.
Alongside Ford, the panel includes fellow fashion designer, Stella McCartney, as well as media personalities such as actor and filmmaker Don Cheadle; actress, film producer and director Trudie Styler, and documentary maker and Musings Magazine founder Susan Rockefeller.
Other members of the panel include Dr. 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 Big Blue & You; 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, and Terracycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky.
This panel will work in partnership with a Scientific and Tech Advisory Board featuring experts in fields ranging from materials science and product development to ocean health. Comprehensive lab and field testing of submissions will be carried out in collaboration with the Bioseniatic Laboratory at the UGA New Materials Institute.
The panel will be further advised by the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize Investment Alliance, chaired by investor Matt Grossman. Made up of business and tech experts specialized in venture capital, finance, impact investing, marketing and technology commercialization, the Alliance will primarily offer guidance concerning the business models, market viability and financing of finalists.
Submissions to the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize are open through October 24, 2021.
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