The nine finalists of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize have been revealed. The shortlisted projects, which aim to replace single-use plastic packaging with environmentally friendly solutions, will now enter a year-long material testing phase sponsored by Nike.
Launched in 2020 by the eponymous American fashion designer in partnership with non-profit Lonely Whale, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize aims to find sustainable alternatives to thin-film plastic polybags, an estimated 180 billion of which are used by the fashion industry each year.
“The ambition of this Prize is unparalleled, and is poised to claim the largest commercial shift away from non-recyclable thin-film plastic,” comments Lonely Whale CEO Dr. Dune Ives.
The eight finalists were selected from among 64 applicants across 26 countries. They are:
Canada’s Genecis, creator of biodegradable plastics from food waste;
UK-based biotech company Kelpi, which harnesses the properties of seaweed;
Kenyan social enterprise Lwanda Biotech, a developer of thin-film plastic packaging alternatives to address agricultural waste and plastic pollution on a community level;
Icelandic start-up Marea, which leverages local algae streams for biodegradable thin-film alternatives;
UK-based start-up Notpla, a pioneer of natural-membrane, seaweeed-based packaging. The company is inspired by how nature encapsulates liquids;
US company Sway, whose home-compostable, seaweed based thin-film plastic packaging replacements strive to offer a carbon-negative material at scale;
University of Cambridge, UK spinout Xampla, which turns plant proteins into "high-performance" materials that are an alternative to plastics;
India’s Zerocircle, which transforms locally cultivated seaweed into packaging materials.
A year-long material testing phase sponsored by Nike aims to ensure the finalists’ materials are biologically degradable, scalable, cost-competitive and market-ready by 2025. Leading brands will also test the materials; those signed up to do so include Tom Ford Beauty, Nike and clothing retailer J.Crew.
Winners of the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize will be announced in spring 2023.