Atlantic Packaging has partnered with TOM FORD and Lonely Whale to accelerate the adoption of seaweed-based plastic alternatives.
Nearly half of all new plastic waste entering the ocean each year comes from one ubiquitous source: thin-film plastic made from fossil fuels, that are extracted from the ground, releasing harmful carbon into the atmosphere and displacing wildlife and people from their homes. These flexible films are not readily degradable and difficult to recycle — they can often end up in the ocean, where they can be ingested by sea life.
In 2020, Lonely Whale, a nonprofit whose mission is to keep plastic out of oceans, unveiled “Unwrap the Future,” a three phase, multi-year program to vet and scale viable, marine-safe solutions to traditional thin-film plastic.
For phase one of the program, the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize was created in partnership with Lonely Whale and TOM FORD, a luxury fashion house.
In March 2023, prize winners, Sway, Zerocircle, and Notpla were announced at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards. The awarded $1.2 million Prize Purse was a combination cash prize and direct investment presented by title sponsors TOM FORD BEAUTY and The Estée Lauder Companies, and Phillip Sarofim’s Trousdale Ventures, the venture capital partner of the Prize.
Atlantic Packaging, as a member of the Early Adopter Coalition, will support the prize winners in phase two of the Lonely Whale Program.
“Our primary mission at Atlantic Packaging and A New Earth Project is to activate life affirming technologies in the materials economy,” says Wes Carter, Atlantic Packaging President. “Our 80-year history of ethical business practices and deep commitment to creating value gives us a unique position to support the new innovators emerging in packaging. The synergies that are collectively created through this partnership with Lonely Whale are profound in their potential impact on a more regenerative supply chain.”
Phase two of the Lonely Whale Program, the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Accelerator, was announced at the 2023 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego.
“Unveiling the winners of the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize was merely the first step. It’s now essential to expedite capital access for these companies as they expand, replacing detrimental plastics with solutions rooted in nature,” stated Philip Sarofim, the founder of Trousdale Ventures. “Innovation remains at the core of our investment ethos, and we’re excited to witness the transformative impact these enterprises will usher in, paving the way for a more promising tomorrow by safeguarding the health of our planet.”
The TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Accelerator powered by Lonely Whale is a nearly year-long program that aims to advance awareness of traditional thin-film plastic and adoption of seaweed-based alternatives developed by the winners of the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Prize. The Accelerator is sponsored by TOM FORD BEAUTY, its parent company, The Estée Lauder Companies, and supported by Phillip Sarofim’s Trousdale Ventures.
In order to measurably displace traditional thin-film plastic from supply chains, winning innovations require access to multifaceted networks, leading insights, and brand collaborators to deliver solutions to these issues at scale. The Accelerator will engage cross-industry expertise to facilitate monthly seminars and strategic communication workshops for the Prize-winning companies, empowering them with the support needed to advance their innovations in an effort to support the reduction of traditional and not readily degradable plastics.
A group of international brands in Lonely Whale’s Early Adopter Coalition have committed to trialing the prize-winning packaging solutions, including The Estée Lauder Companies which have begun internal trials to identify potential use cases across TOM FORD BEAUTY. Acting as the convenor, Lonely Whale aims to bridge the gap between corporate interest in alternatives and brands’ ability to adopt them.
“Over the course of our sustainability journey at The Estée Lauder Companies, we’ve learned that strategic partnerships and collaborations are essential to helping us reach our goals,” said Nancy Mahon, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Estée Lauder Companies. “We are honored to continue our partnership with Lonely Whale to help advance the integration of innovative, seaweed-based packaging materials across the fashion and beauty industries and beyond.”
Atlantic Packaging Vice President Stewart Whitmire has joined the Accelerator’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Board, bringing over two decades of packaging expertise to the project.
“Partnering with the Accelerator strongly aligns with Atlantic’s continued commitment to helping the packaging supply chain implement sustainable, long-term solutions that are not harmful to wildlife or ecosystems,” says Stewart Whitmire. “We are pleased to be part of this impactful program as we look for innovative ways to help lead the packaging industry into a sustainable future.”
Atlantic Packaging aims to accelerate these new bio-based plastic brands through our scientific, data-driven approach to packaging testing that allows us to optimize, standardize, and validate packaging for transit in our International Safe Transit Association-certified packaging testing laboratory.
As the largest privately held packaging distributor in North America, our organization plans to introduce these new brands to our extensive network of packaging-material manufacturers.
As the most technical resource in sustainable packaging, we will find the demand for these new products in the marketplace and introduce them to our existing partners.
“I am thoroughly inspired by the ingenuity, dedication and passion shown by the Prize winners, Sway, Zerocircle and Notpla, and the ongoing investment in innovation from our partners at TOM FORD BEAUTY, The Estée Lauder Companies, and Phillip Sarofim’s Trousdale Ventures.” said Lucy Sumner, co-founder of Lonely Whale. “Alongside the Early Adopter Coalition, recently joined by packaging systems leader Atlantic Packaging, these brands are actively demonstrating the type of radical collaboration needed to develop concrete and dynamic solutions that ensure the long-term health and prosperity of our ocean.”
Brands interested in joining as members of the Early Adopter Coalition can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. More information about the TOM FORD Plastic Innovation Accelerator can be found at unwrapthefuture.org or by following @TOMFORDbeauty, @esteelaudercompanies, @LonelyWhale, and #UnwrapTheFuture on Instagram.