The finalists of the Tom Ford x Lonley Whale "Plastic Innovation Prize" have been chosen

A competition focused on developing biodegradable alternatives to plastic polybags

Tom Ford Plastic innovation
Source & Copyright by Tom Ford

Author: Sidney Kadziolka

Microplastics in oceans are increasing rapidly - the problem

Over 300 billion single-use polybags are used worldwide every year. Since these are not recyclable, they either end up in landfills or in our oceans. The plastic in the ocean is known to endanger countless species and ecosystems that are already being affected by increasing global warming, acidification and other factors. There are now over 14 million tons of plastic on the bottom of our seas and the amount is expected to triple by 2040.

To combat this plastic problem Tom Ford shared with Lonely Whale the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize to bring into being. This is the only competition in the world focused on developing biodegradable alternatives to plastic polybags. A problem in the fashion industry in particular. In addition, Tom Ford presented its first Ocean plastic watch Timepieces in November 2020 in order to create even more awareness for the topic. So it's the first luxury watch from 100% marine plastic.

The Lonely Whale Company is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing plastic waste from entering the oceans. Since their inception in 2015, they have created recycling schemes and developed plastic alternatives. In the last step, the candidates presented a working prototype to the jury, consisting of Tom Ford and other industry leaders, influencers and scientists, to replace the bags.

The Tom Ford x Lonley Whale Plastic Innovation Prize finalists have been announced:

As part of the award ceremony, the eight finalists were chosen from 64 applicants from 26 countries. All with the same ambition: to solve the problem of microplastics and find a replacement for them plastic industry a DAK Bungalow.

1. Genecis

A Canadian biotechnology company that uses bacteria to produce high-value materials from low-value organic waste.

2. Kelpi

The sustainable biotech company from the UK uses seaweed to produce compostable, marine safe and low carbon bioplastic packaging.

3. Lwanda Biotech

The Kenya-based company deals with both plastic pollution and agricultural waste. It is thus developing alternatives to thin-layer plastic packaging.

4. The sea

An Icelandic start-up that creates sustainable local algal streams uses to create a model for fully biodegradable alternatives.

5. Emergency Plan

Is a London-based start-up that aims to develop packaging with natural membranes, using the seaweed as an alternative to single-use plastic.


The American tech company that offers algae-based, home-compostable substitutes for plastic packaging. In order to offer a CO2 negative material on a large scale.

7. Xampla

A University of Cambridge spin-off that makes high-performance alternative plastic materials from proteins from plant sources such as peas.

8. Zerocircle

The Indian company develops wildlife- and marine-safe packaging materials made from locally grown seaweed, which dissolves in the ocean after use.

From seaweed to pea proteins to leftover food. These ideas show us that creative solutions are within reach. According to this, algae turned out to be the most frequently used alternative, while four of the eight finalists used it as a material. "We're trying to set a new standard," says Dr. Dune Ives, CEO of Lonely Whale, the non-profit organization with which Ford has partnered for the award.

The last phase: material testing

The finalists now go to the next phase for the material test. On the one hand, this includes tests on land, as well as in the sea and in laboratories of the University of Georgia. In addition, the aquarium will, among other things, carry out laboratory-based modelling. Thus, to determine the effect of the materials on the health and well-being of marine animals.

The "Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize" is endowed with more than 1,2 million US dollars. The winners will be announced in spring 2023. In order for the award winner to achieve market acceptance in the years to come, it will receive significant support from Lonely Whale and other partners.


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