Plastic-free innovations stuck in the driver, can Tom Ford’s 2023 hopefuls change that? –WWD

THE Tom Ford The Plastic Innovation Prize hopes to shake things up by revealing three plastic-free prize winners.

The winners are Notpla, a London-based start-up that turns seaweed into natural membrane packaging; Sway, an American company creating seaweed-based, carbon-negative material, and Zerocircle, an India-based company making wildlife- and ocean-safe packaging materials from locally grown seaweed that will dissolve harmlessly in the ocean after use.

The designer revealed the winners after receiving ‘The Eco-Age Visionary Award’, for his work with the award, at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards in Los Angeles, presented by Livia Firth’s eco-consultancy Eco-Age.

More than five million metric tons of thin-film plastic pollutes the ocean every year, according to data from UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. Since 2020, Tom Ford teamed up with Lonely Whale to deliver the award. Today, it is one of the few projects focused on scaling plastic-free, degradable and sea-safe solutions to polybags in today’s supply chains.

This last selection was made up of eight finalists, announced in March 2022 (reduced from 64 total submissions). Over the past year, finalists have engaged in a year-long materials testing phase sponsored by Nike.

Judges for the $1.2 million prize were Stella McCartney, Don Cheadle, Trudie Styler, Livia Firth, Susan Rockefeller, Steven Kolb, Melati Wijsen, Danni Washington and more.

Firth, one of the judges, said maintaining momentum can be difficult, especially in a constrained funding climate. “We’ve seen a few different solutions for different polymers, but it’s hard to get sustained traction and many haven’t progressed since the trial period. The hope here is that by leveraging different sectors, including the oxygen of advertising, that the long process of bringing a solution to market and deploying it at the necessary scale can be supported and sustained.

Through her work with the GCFA, Firth hopes to champion, in a pragmatic sense, how entertainment and fashion can present an “alternative system” of creating, producing and experiencing fashion that is “ecologically literate and reflects the reality of climate and nature”. crisis.”

In a phone interview with WWD, Rockefeller also offered hope for the challenge, particularly Ford’s leadership, applauding his ability to lead in a “hands-on, creative and entrepreneurial” way.

Through his philanthropic work and his digital magazine ‘Musings’, the environmentalist said: ‘The key is to have passionate top-down leadership, and Tom Ford really understands when the power of commerce and innovation come together – that’s what’s really exciting.” For three years, the documentary filmmaker was a judge for the Kering Sustainable Innovation Award covering materials and supply chain solutions.

There are a number of competitions aimed at replacing plastic polybags, including the Beyond the Bag Challenge, presented by Closed Loop Partners, which launched in 2021, and Fashion for Good’s Circular Polybag Pilot (with Adidas, Kering and PVH) which was launched in 2019. .

In an email to WWD, Closed Loop said the Beyond the Bag Challenge has grown from five retail 15 partners, rolling out more than 6,000 iterative tests and pilots, although official details of the impact are expected on Tuesday.

“There are no scalable solutions from thin-film plastic made from biodegradable solutions,” Rockefeller pointed out. “A lot of people are looking for scalable solutions – you need a lot of people around the table to move the needle. Now is the time, given the accelerating waste in our oceans…”

As for Fashion for Good, the organization said via email that it was too early for public updates, but an earnings report will be expected in the third quarter of 2023. As WWD previously reported, the project was delayed amid the pandemic. Some reuse solutions highlighted in the report included Repack, Returnity, and LimeLoop.

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