In 2020, Tom Ford partnered with Lonely Whale to launch the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize, the only global competition focused on creating scalable and biologically degradable alternatives to traditional thin-film plastic polybags. To coincide with the launch and to further the commitment to ocean health, in November 2020, TOM FORD TIMEPIECES debuted its first Ocean Plastic timepiece, the first luxury timepiece made from 100% ocean plastic.
Winners of the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize were announced on March 9, 2023 at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards by Prize founder, Tom Ford. 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 Winners to scale their solutions to replace traditional thin-film plastics, which make up 46% of all plastic waste leaking into the ocean each year.
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. Further details will be announced in June 2023.
We’re proud to announce the winners of the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize.
Bay Area, CA United States
Sway is an American company offering seaweed-based, home-compostable replacements for thin-film plastic packaging, aiming to offer a regenerative material at scale.
Zerocircle is an India-based company making wildlife and ocean-safe packaging materials from locally cultivated seaweed that will dissolve harmlessly in the ocean after use.
London, United Kingdom
Notpla is a London-based start-up inspired by the way nature encapsulates liquids and is on a mission to make plastic waste disappear by pioneering natural-membrane packaging that uses seaweed as an alternative to single-use plastic
Traditional thin-film plastic made from fossil or biofuels are at the edge of human experience. Almost 180 billion traditional thin-film plastic polybags are used annually by the fashion industry. It is not yet estimated how many thin film plastic bags are used across other industries, but presently there are no scalable solutions to address this issue. 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.
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 alternatives to traditional, thin-film plastics.
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.
Founder of Authenticated Ventures
Golden Globe winning Actor, climate solutions and human rights advocate
SENIOR ADVISOR AND FORMER CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER, MORGAN STANLEY
MBE, ACTIVIST, PRODUCER, FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF ECO-AGE
Two-Time World Champion Surfer, Olympian, and Founder of Florence Marine X
FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN OF FORTESCUE METALS GROUP AND MINDEROO FOUNDATION
Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President, Mastercard
Founder & CEO, Vuori
Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)
OBE, FASHION DESIGNER, FOUNDER OF STELLA MCCARTNEY
AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER, ARTIST, CONSERVATIONIST, FOUNDER OF MUSINGS
Vice President of Sustainable Product, Nike
FOUNDER AND MANAGING PARTNER, TROUSDALE VENTURES, LLC
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.
RECYCLING MANAGER, PLASTIC ODYSSEY
DIRECTOR OF PROCUREMENT & PACKAGING ENGINEERING AT DELL TECHNOLOGIES
Research Director and Co-Founder of the 5 Gyres Institute
PURCHASING DIRECTOR, ROQ US
SCIENTIST & TECHNOLOGIST
DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION PROGRAMS AND PARTNERSHIPS, SEATTLE AQUARIUM
Senior Advisor, Encourage Capital
Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Michigan State University
Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Planet Fund
SENIOR DIRECTOR, PRODUCT INNOVATION, HIGG
Director of New Product Development & Supply Management, Herman Miller
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
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, North Equity LLC
The Early Adopter Coalition has agreed to test finalist materials within their supply chain in an effort to eliminate fossil fuel based thin-film plastic permanently. Are you interested in joining the coalition? Let us know!
An integral part of the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize was the nine-month material testing phase sponsored by Nike. This phase includes field testing in Caribbean waters, in-lab testing led by the New Materials Institute at the University of Georgia, and field testing in Pacific Northwest waters led by the Seattle Aquarium. The Aquarium also led a bespoke, first-of-its-kind laboratory-based modeling designed to approximate the effect of the materials on the health and well-being of marine mammals. Read more about the Material Testing Protocols.