TOM FORD and 52HZ are offering $1.2 Million to the innovators who create the best replacement for thin-film plastic; one that can be used in everything from polybags (the fashion industry’s packaging of choice) to single-use, resealable sandwich and storage bags.
The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is a two-year competition, followed by three years of support for competition finalists, designed to incentivize the development and adoption of these alternatives to thin-film plastic.
The prize will catalyze the use of scalable, biologically degradable thin-film plastic alternatives through an open innovation process, rigorous scientific and technical analysis, and in-depth partnership and facilitation activities.
Thin-film describes the shroud of plastic at the edge of human experience. Globally, humans are estimated to use over 300 billion polybags and single-use, resealable sandwich and storage bags (SRPBs) every year. These bags are almost impossible to recycle — they end up in landfills or on the ground and in our ocean.
Thin-film enters our lives for a minute, yet continues on as waste, never truly disappearing or recycled.
Innovation prizes have incentivized large-scale problem-solving for over 300 years. In fact, the story of plastic starts with an innovation prize. And elephants.
In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt won the Phelan & Collender prize for inventing the world’s first plastic—celluloid—to replace ivory in billiard balls. Ivory was becoming scarce. And so were elephants. Hyatt’s innovation, inspired by the prize, marked the birth of the plastic world as we know it today.
The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize was established with the spirit of Hyatt’s work in mind. One hundred and fifty-two years later, the solution to the world’s plastic crisis can be found in the tale of its creation.
The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is structured into two rounds occurring over approximately two years, followed by approximately three years of support and accelerator services for competition winners and other high-performing teams.
TECHNICAL SUBMISSION ROUND
The first round of the competition involves an initial submission where teams will be required to complete a detailed Submission Template outlining their innovation and describing how it aligns with the competition criteria.
Up to 10 competitors will be selected as finalists and share in a milestone prize award of $200,000 to encourage the development of their technologies.
FINAL TESTING ROUND
Finalists will participate in the final round of the competition by providing samples of their materials for third-party lab testing. Prize winners will be selected based on a review of these results plus supporting materials. Three prize winners will share in a prize pool of $1 Million in investment capital and then move into the Accelerator phase of the competition.
Interested applicants should review the Competition Guidelines linked below for detailed information about the prize process, timeline, and criteria, before beginning their submission.
Click on the ‘Submit’ button on this page or use the ‘Login’ drop-down on the top right to start your submission. All initial competition submissions must be received by October 24, 2021, as outlined in the Timeline section below.
Interested in submitting to the prize? Just want to learn more? Join us for an informational webinar on Tuesday, July 13th at 8:00 AM GMT, 5:00 PM AEST. Click here to register. Can’t make it? No worries. You can view a recording of our first webinar here.
The judging criteria for the prize are designed to be holistic and comprehensive such that the competition rewards the solutions best positioned to succeed in the marketplace while also mitigating the crisis of thin-film plastic.
A detailed overview of the judging criteria, as well as the process for reviewing submissions, are provided in the Competition Guidelines.
The core judging criteria for the prize are:
Materials must be capable of demonstrating soil and marine biological degradation under conditions that closely approximate natural environments.
Materials must minimize negative social & environmental impacts arising from their production.
Products must meet industry standard performance specifications to ensure they are capable of functioning within packaging systems and for use by consumers.
Solutions must be scalable to meet the massive scope of the thin-film plastic pollution challenge.
Solutions must have a clear pathway to becoming reasonably cost competitive with traditional thin-film plastics.
Judges for the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize serve as a high-level review body tasked with selecting competitors best positioned for growth, composed of industry leaders, influencers, and scientists who will champion market adoption of thin-film alternatives.
Tom Ford was born in Austin, Texas prior to moving to New York City and Paris to study design. In 1990, Ford joined Gucci as the company’s chief womenswear designer before becoming Creative Director in 1994, ultimately becoming vice chairman. Under Ford’s leadership, Gucci became one of the largest and most profitable luxury brands in the world, with sales increasing from 230 million dollars in 1994 to 3 billion dollars in 2003. Ford resigned from his post in 2004 and announced the creation of TOM FORD in April 2005. Today, the brand offers a complete collection of Menswear, Womenswear, Accessories, Eyewear, Beauty and most recently Underwear and Timepieces. Presently there are over 100 freestanding TOM FORD stores and shop-in-shops in locations around the world. In addition to his achievements within the fashion industry, Ford is also an award-winning screenwriter, producer, and film director. Tom Ford has redefined luxury. He is a visionary and his success has been recognized by a number of international awards, highlighted by winning seven Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards, including their prestigious Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and The Menswear Designer of the Year in 2015. In 2019, Mr. Ford took over as Chairman of the CFDA. Ford currently lives in Los Angeles.
Golden Globe winning Actor, climate solutions and human rights advocate
CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER & CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER, MORGAN STANLEY
MBE, ACTIVIST, PRODUCER, FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF ECO-AGE
FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN OF FORTESCUE METALS GROUP AND MINDEROO FOUNDATION
OBE, FASHION DESIGNER, FOUNDER OF STELLA MCCARTNEY
AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER, ARTIST, CONSERVATIONIST, FOUNDER OF MUSINGS
Actress, film producer, director, human rights activist, environmentalist, UNICEF Ambassador, organic farmer and winemaker
FOUNDER AND CEO OF TERRACYCLE
HEAD OF SUSTAINABILITY, ROTHY’S
SCIENCE COMMUNICATOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE BIG BLUE AND YOU
FOUNDER OF YOUTHTOPIA AND BYE BYE PLASTIC BAGS
The prize Scientific & Technical Advisory Board is tasked with ensuring winning solutions meet clear environmental standards at both production and end-of-life and are positioned for market adoption by meeting performance and scalability criteria.
Research Director and co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute
DIRECTOR OF SUSTAINABLE WASTE MANAGEMENT AT SCUOLA AGRARIA DEL PARCO DI MONZA, Chair of the Scientific Committee of Zero Waste Europe
Director, Technology and Innovation, Minderoo Foundation
DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION PROGRAMS AND PARTNERSHIPS, SEATTLE AQUARIUM
Senior Advisor, Encourage Capital
Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Michigan State University
HEAD OF INVESTMENTS, SKY OCEAN VENTURES
SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGIST, WRITER, AND BUSINESS LEADER
The Prize Investment Alliance consists of business and technology leaders with expertise in venture capital, finance, impact investing, entrepreneurship, marketing, and technology commercialization. The Alliance will advise the Judges on the business model, market viability, and financing of finalist submissions, and will help provide investment capital for the prize winners.
Chief Executive Officer and Manager of ALG Investment Management, LLC