If you're a scientist, entrepreneur, designer, or artist who has ever dreamed of changing the world by creating something good, this is your moment.
TOM FORD and 52HZ are offering up to $1 million to the innovator(s) 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 bags.
The trouble with thin-film plastic (besides the fact that it represents 46% of all plastic leaking into our ocean today) is that it gathers in the fissures and the cracks of all our lives, and is so easily overlooked. The average U.S. family uses anywhere from 500-1,500 single-use plastic sandwich and storage bags every year. The fashion industry collectively uses an estimated 180 billion, yes billion, poly-bags every year. Most are never recycled. Thin film is seen and then unseen and dangerous in its ubiquity.
Tom Ford and 52HZ present the Plastic Innovation Prize to fuel the development of the best alternative to today’s thin-film plastics. Winner(s) of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation prize, powered by 52Hz, will create a scalable thin-film plastic alternative that is affordable for consumers and industry, generates little to no waste, and has a net positive impact on the ocean.
Thin-film describes the shroud of plastic at the edge of human experience. These are the 40-125 billion single-use, resealable sandwich and storage bags and the 180 billion plastic polybags used annually by the fashion industry that end up in landfills or on the ground and in our ocean every single year. Thin-film enters our lives for a minute, yet continues on as waste, never truly disappearing or recycled.
11 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year. That number is expected to nearly triple to 29 million metric tons by 2040. That’s the same as dumping 110 pounds (50 kilograms) of plastic on every meter of coastline around the world.
Thin-film plastic represents 46% of plastic bleeding into the ocean.
Today, approximately 14 million metric tons of plastic sit on the ocean floor. It is virtually impossible to extract.
Innovation prizes have incentivized large-scale problem-solving for almost 200 years.
The story of plastic starts with an innovation prize.
In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt won the Phelan & Collender Prize for inventing the world’s first plastic—cellulose nitrate—to replace ivory in billiard balls. Ivory was becoming scarce and more importantly, elephants were becoming scarce. Hyatt’s innovation, inspired by the prize, marked the birth of the plastic world as we know it today. For the first time, humankind could create outside nature.
The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize was established with the spirit of Hyatt’s work in mind. One hundred and fifty-seven years later, the solution to the world’s plastic crisis can be found in the tale of its creation. It is time for another new beginning.