Plastic Pollution Coalition is pleased to announce our eight nominees for The Earthshot Prize 2022. We are honored to be among the 345 official Nominators from 80 countries to select projects with simple but ambitious goals for our planet which, if achieved by 2030, will improve life for us all, for generations to come.
Launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in October 2020, The Earthshot Prize is the most prestigious global environment prize in history and aims to turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism, by highlighting the ability of human ingenuity to bring about change, and inspiring collective action. Winners of The Earthshot Prize will be granted GBP £1 million, along with additional support to help scale their impact.
We received many inspiring recommendations for nominations this year, and choosing just a handful was a real challenge. We prioritized nominees for solutions that address the plastic pollution crisis at the source by seeking ways to reduce plastic production and use, center environmental justice, and have the potential to scale in the next few years to make an even greater impact. We also chose solutions that work with broad networks or that have been in existence for at least a few years.
Without further ado, our 2022 nominees for The Earthshot Prize are (in alphabetical order):
1. Flip the Script on Plastics
(Plastic Pollution Coalition)
Research demonstrates that films and television have the power to shift culture by modeling changes needed in society. Launched with an initial focus on U.S. television and films, the goal of Flip the Script on Plastics is to replace throwaway plastic on screen with reusable/refillable options and feature storylines describing the intersecting impacts of plastics on frontline communities, health, and climate.
Single-use plastics are the primary source of plastic pollution on the planet. With 99% of plastics made from fossil fuels, the climate and environmental justice implications are at crisis levels. This initiative features the first-ever analysis of portrayals of single-use plastics on television, a media campaign, and entertainment industry engagement, including workshops and field trips for writers, creators, and performers—with the potential for massive impact.
2. Hope Spots
In 2009, Dr. Sylvia Earle won the esteemed TED Prize for her profound talk on the dire state of the world’s oceans, sounding a clarion call to halt and reverse the damage. Her proposed solution: “I wish you would use all means at your disposal—films, expeditions, the web, submarines—to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas; Hope Spots large enough to save and restore the blue heart of the planet.” Thus, Mission Blue was born with the quest to inspire action for exploring and protecting the ocean through creation of Hope Spots.
Mission Blue went from zero Hope Spots in 2010 to 140 by the end of 2021, a herculean effort. These marine-protected areas foster critical health for the ocean and our planet. The Hope Spot community is a vibrant ecosystem of people as diverse as the ocean itself, from 69 countries worldwide. The Earthshot Prize would substantially increase Mission Blue’s ability to develop Hope Spots around the world and contribute meaningfully to the global goal of 30% of ocean protection by 2030.
The PLAN Movement Building Fund (MBF) is a pathway into the Zero Waste movement addressing financial barriers, including the lack of financial resources, an obstacle that is embedded in structural and institutional inequalities across race, class, ability, and gender. MBF provides scholarships to their annual Student Zero Waste Conference, free resources to campus groups with limited funding, and payment to students and community organizers. They aim to directly support people who have been historically marginalized and dedicate a portion of the MBF’s resources to those most impacted by systemic oppression.
PLAN believes the more campuses work towards a common goal of zero waste, the more we grow a wider movement of student power across the nation and eventually globally.
Reusable packaging is the most effective way to address the plastic and waste crises. Standardized reuse can eliminate up to 90% of packaging production and 80% of related climate emissions. PR3’s reusable packaging standards set core requirements to align durable packaging around shared infrastructure, like washing facilities, collection, and transport.
Shared standards facilitate the conditions needed to scale the new industry, including lowering risk for corporate and municipal investments, decreasing system costs, and increasing convenience, quality assurance, and consumer and investor confidence.
While reducing system costs, PR3 standards also build in protections to guarantee pricing for collection and returns, hourly wages, and accessibility for consumers without smartphones, bank accounts, or credit cards. PR3 is working with multiple players, including World Economic Forum, Nestle, Cisco, issue NGOs, and dozens of reuse startups to create a globally aligned reuse system for multiple cities.
It is critical that individuals around the world understand the toxic consequences of plastic production on communities and the environment. Plastic is made from fossil fuels. Its entire value chain, from extraction to transformation to production, negatively contributes to climate change and creates a toxic environment that disproportionately harms frontline communities.
The Break Free From Plastic Toxic Tours platform is led by environmental justice groups with the goal of elevating the stories of frontline communities living near petrochemical sites around the globe. The platform builds inclusion and equity by creating a space for frontline communities to share their stories and share their local site fights. In the second phase more voices will be added to the map, for incineration, recycling, and solutions.
The Toxic Tours will be used not only for educational purposes but also by organizations in their advocacy efforts.
Vessel empowers people to ditch throwaway culture and provides communities with a superior, less expensive scalable option to avoid single-use disposable foodware, eliminating waste and lowering climate impacts. Universal infrastructure that facilitates the recovery and redistribution of reusable containers is fundamental to the reuse transition. Vessel is a proven leader in reusables/refillables, allowing people to make better choices by using pioneering customized open-source tracking and management software.
73% of Vessel users begin to rethink their daily single-use disposable habits after 3 weeks of using the service. Reuse can address 2% of the climate budget and can change the way people behave, acting as a highly visible leverage point, harnessing social proofing, and changing world views.
7. Zero Waste Bonds
(Zero Waste Europe)
Today we have the technical knowledge and solutions to address the challenges around biowaste. What is lacking is the right funding going to the right solutions. Zero Waste Bonds will enable the testing of innovative/sustainable solutions addressing ways to invest in early intervention services that might not get funded otherwise and geared towards zero waste problem prevention. Zero Waste Bonds will bring systemic changes by encouraging private investors and public institutions to collaborate as well as local communities, enterprises, and organizations in working together to tackle social challenges.
Creating a Zero Waste Bond is pioneering a bold approach that not only contributes to identifying solutions that bring the most value to communities while addressing climate change challenges, but it also stimulates successful outcomes. Similar mechanisms exist in addressing healthcare access or providing education programs and can be replicable indefinitely.
Zero Waste Cities Certification is a highly replicable and scalable model ready to trigger a systemic change within 2–5 years by creating a new normal and higher standards for ambitious waste management. The certification is based on 10 years of experience by Zero Waste Europe transitioning 450 cities to zero waste. It formalizes and harmonizes proven, impactful practices into criteria which serve as a to-do list for cities to transform their waste handling, go above EU targets, and save money. The process is guided by a mentor who ensures that the changes are impactful, fit the local context, and keep the residents onboard.
With its self-funding mechanisms once at scale, its impact will keep growing without needing external financing—a truly self-sustainable system. An exciting prospect is that there are 12 million people living in cities that are currently considering joining the certification system.
The Earthshot Prize team will now begin the process of evaluating the various solutions nominated from around the world—including these eight nominees—and will choose winners later this year. We congratulate our nominees and wish them the very best of luck!
Also note there were many solutions sent to us that we think have excellent potential! Please know that if we did not submit you this year, that doesn’t mean we won’t next time. Some nominations we received were strong but just needed broader reach or a little more experience and time to develop. So please keep up the great work and consider applying again next year.