by Stephen Garner

Tom Ford and behavior change agency 52HZ announced on Thursday 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.

Today, thin-film plastic makes up 46 percent 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,” said Ford. “Plastic pollution is taking one of the greatest tolls on our environment and thin-film plastic makes up 46 percent 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 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.

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.

“Thin-film plastic enters our lives for a minute, yet continues on as waste, never truly disappearing,” added 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.”

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