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Get Ready For More Seaweed Packaging: Sway Nabs Top Prize In Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Competition

by Bill McCool on 03/14/2023 | 2 Minute Read

Well, it looks as if seaweed will finally get its time in the sun.

For the past few years, we’ve documented seaweed’s rise as a plastic-free packaging alternative, and we've highlighted the material innovation company Sway, a regenerative design solutions company making flexible packaging seaweed films. Just a few weeks ago, we detailed how necessary it is for startups to enter competitions like the Tom Ford Plastic Plastic Innovation Prize (in partnership with Lonely Whale) because of how valuable the experience can be—not only do you get to battle-test your materials (inside a simulated whale’s gut no less to see if it will be biologically degradable), but you can also partner with major brands to see how your plastic alternative will work in the marketplace.

Well, as it just so happened, winners were announced late last week by Tom Ford himself at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, and first place went to Sway. Second and third place went to Zerocircle and Notpla, respectively.

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Winners will split a $1.2 million prize purse and direct investment, with the majority awarded to Sway. Additionally, Lonely Whale will kickoff its Innovation Accelerator to allow for winners of the competition to receive industry-wide market adoption for their single-use plastic alternatives (and in Sway’s case, that might mean making seaweed bags for the likes of J. Crew and Madewell, who they partnered with during the competition).

“The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is the most detailed, rigorous vetting that has been conducted to date of new packaging materials, and offers great insight into what it will take to win in the fight against plastics,” said Sway co-founder and CEO Julia Marsh to Dieline. “By uniting a broad stakeholder network of innovators, industry experts, fashion brands, and investors, the Prize has served as a catalyst in Sway's journey to valorize seaweed as a regenerative replacement for plastic — and for the plastic-free movement itself!” 

“We're now scaling to meet demand from incredible brands across fashion, beauty, home goods, and food, with our first public-facing pilots going live in April,” she added. “Sway is also growing! We will be adding top material science and engineering talent to the team in the coming months.”

So, it looks like everything is coming up seaweed after all, and we can’t wait to see this hit the market.