Back to updates

Submissions are now open for the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize



Submissions are now open for the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize to facilitate alternative solutions for thin-film plastic; a material that accounts for 46% of all ocean plastic leakage.


May 20th, 2021TOM FORD and 52HZ announce today that the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is now accepting submissions from inventors, entrepreneurs and those invested in the fight against plastic pollution to accelerate meaningful innovation around a replacement for thin-film plastic.

The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is the only competition focused exclusively on material science innovation to incentivize the creative development and adoption of affordable and scalable alternatives to thin-film plastic. The two-year competition, followed by three years of support for competition finalists, offers a purse total of more than $1 million. By bringing investors, major brands, and other partners together in an action-focused coalition, the Plastic Innovation Prize will offer dedicated support to help finalists reach scale and market adoption by 2025, creating an inflection point in the fight against plastic pollution.

“Thin-film plastic enters our lives for a minute, yet continues on as waste, never truly disappearing,” says Dr. Dune Ives, CEO of Lonely Whale. “The origin story of plastic starts with an innovation prize and the solution to the plastic crisis can be found in the tale of its creation. As a campaign organization capable of catalyzing global change on a massive scale, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is an opportunity to create another new beginning and promote solutions commensurate with the plastic pollution problem.”

Today, thin-film plastic makes up 46% of the approximately 11 million metric tons of plastic that leaks into our ocean annually, a figure that is expected to nearly triple to 29 million metric tons by 2040. Just two products—single-use resealable sandwich storage bags and plastic polybags used by the fashion industry—represent over 300 billion thin-film plastic bags disposed of annually. The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize will enable competition finalists to bring biologically degradable thin-film plastic alternatives to market, so the ocean does not continue to pay the price of these products.

“Sustainability is a key critical issue in our lives now,” says Tom Ford. “Plastic pollution is taking one of the greatest tolls on our environment and thin-film plastic makes up 46% of all plastic waste entering our ocean. 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.”

A panel of industry-leading judges, led by Tom Ford, will vet and stress-test submissions to ensure they have a positive impact on the environment, and they are also scalable and market-ready by 2025. The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize Investment Alliance will be chaired by investor Matt Grossman. The list of judges to date listed below for reference:


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, Hon. D.Sc., Science Communicator and Founder of The Big Blue & You, Honorary Doctor of Science

Don Cheadle, Actor and Filmmaker

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

Stella McCartney, OBE, Fashion designer

Susan Rockefeller, Documentary filmmaker and Founder of Musings Magazine

Tom Szaky, Founder and CEO of TerraCycle

Trudie Styler, Actress, film producer, and director


Judges will work in tandem with a distinguished panel of scientific and technical experts from fields such as materials science, ocean health, and product development, such as Dr. Ramani Narayan, University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science. To ensure that the thin-film alternatives sourced through the prize are capable of solving the dramatic impact of thin-film plastics on our ocean, the prize evaluation criteria includes a comprehensive set of lab and field testing analyses conducted in partnership with the BioseniaticSM Laboratory at the UGA New Materials Institute.

Submissions to the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize are open today through October 24, 2021. Learn more about submission guidelines and prize rules at www.plasticprize.org

Video here

About TOM FORD  

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.


About 52HZ 

Lonely Whale recently launched 52HZ, a strategy and creative agency that helps NGOs, brands, and people change the world by making “doing good” the heart of business and communication models. Leveraging experience building strategic, data-driven campaigns, 52HZ is helping others spark global shifts in behavior and attitude by making issues culturally relevant and inspiring. Inspired by 52 Blue, the whale who called out at an unusual frequency of 52 hertz, Lonely Whale was founded by Adrian Grenier and Lucy Sumner in 2015. Lonely Whale’s campaigns have reached over 1 billion readers, listeners, and viewers through activations, social and traditional media, and has been featured on 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, and NPR, and in major publications including Fast Company, PEOPLE, Forbes, and AdAge. In 2019, Lonely Whale was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies.

For more information, follow @TomFord @LonelyWhale and #UnwrapTheFuture on Instagram.

Imagery available upon request.


# # #

Questions? Email us at info@plasticprize.org