Plastic Pollution Coalition Nominates 2 Solutions for The Earthshot Prize

As an official Nominator Organization for the third year running, Plastic Pollution Coalition is excited to announce our nominees for The Earthshot Prize 2024. We are honored to be among the 432 Official Nominators from 75 countries to select projects with ambitious but achievable goals that have the potential to restore our planet 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, inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot which united millions of people around the goal of reaching the moon. The prize aims to spark the world’s collective imagination and drive urgent action by supporting and amplifying changemaking environmental and social projects that aim to solve some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. Winners of the prize are awarded GBP £1 million to scale their solutions. In addition to the prestigious title, project funding, and exposure from winning the prize, finalists receive mentorship, technical support and resources to help them accelerate their work.

This year, we selected two nominees that are rapidly scaling restorative and transformational solutions to an increasingly urgent plastic pollution crisis. Between them, our nominees are driving global policy change and leveraging infinitely regenerating biomaterials to avoid catastrophic climate change from petrochemical emissions and safeguard people and the planet from the perils of plastic pollution. With that, we would like to present our nominees for The Earthshot Prize 2024.

We need real solutions to end plastic pollution, and the solutions presented by our 2024 Earthshot Prize nominees could help contribute to a healthier world free from plastic pollution and its toxic impacts. The UN Plastics Treaty will only be as effective as what goes into it, and the High Ambition Coalition’s approach offers the best chance for an international agreement that would make a profound difference for people and the planet. The best solutions are still always reusable, non-toxic options, but when single-use is necessary, Ecovative’s mycelium technology is a promising, regenerative alternative.

— Julia Cohen, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Plastic Pollution Coalition

1. High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution (HAC)

At a pivotal moment in modern history, the first of its kind Global Plastics Treaty presents an unprecedented opportunity to address plastic pollution through international diplomacy. 

The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution is an intergovernmental coalition of more than 64 countries working towards an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty that ensures urgent action and effective interventions throughout the entirety of the plastic life cycle, from fossil fuel extraction to disposal. Co-chaired by Rwanda and Norway, this coalition has taken a leadership role in advocating for binding provisions in the treaty that turn off the plastic tap through upstream policy interventions proven to curb plastic pollution and restore ecosystems and economic conditions across the planet. 

Backed by the global scientific community, the High Ambition Coalition is calling for provisions, including: 

  • Reduce and restrain the production of primary plastic polymers;
  • Eliminate problematic plastics and chemicals of concern, including by bans and restrictions; 
  • Develop global sustainability criteria and standards for plastics; 
  • Set global baselines and targets for sustainability throughout the life-cycle of plastics; 
  • Ensure transparency in the value chain of plastics; 
  • Establish mechanisms for strengthening commitments, targets, and controls over time; 
  • Implement monitoring and reporting at each stage through the lifecycle of plastics; and 
  • Facilitate effective technical and financial assistance as well as scientific and socio-economic assessments.

Industry groups and some international coalitions have stalled treaty negotiations to focus on waste management-focused and “bottom-up” approaches that would, among other things, allow countries to set their own targets and policies. Ultimately, this only works to serve fossil fuel and plastic interests, and harms people and the planet. In November, at the third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3), industry representatives outnumbered delegates from the 70 smallest UN Member States combined. To combat industry influence and ineffective voluntary commitments, the High Ambition Coalition has mobilized a growing network of countries to stand up to the interests of fossil fuels and vehemently push for interventions that serve the interests of all people, with special consideration for frontline communities that have disproportionately burdened the toxic impacts of petrochemical production and plastic pollution.

The HAC provides the North Star for guiding ambition within the treaty negotiation process and is the only cross-regional group of countries with a clear set of priorities, approaches, and common ambition. There are other coalitions from different sectors – notably the Scientists Coalition, the Civil Society and Rightsholder Coalition, and the Business Coalition – which are all driving momentum as part of the constellation of ambition for the negotiations, but ultimately in a state-led process, it is this ambitious set of governments that are charting the course towards an effective agreement and clearly spelling out the necessary ingredients for success.

– Christina Dixon, Environment Investigation Agency

The HAC’s work has the potential to re-shape the fragmented and inadequate landscape of plastics policy globally, safeguarding human health and protecting critical planetary systems that are dangerously close to tipping points.

2. Mycelium Technology, by Ecovative

Ecovative’s mycelium technology is a socially and environmentally restorative nontoxic solution that can be rapidly scaled and applied to some of the most carbon-intensive and heavy polluting industries. Whether replacing harmful plastics in product packaging, clothing, and construction, or generating higher yields and improving economic conditions for farming communities, Ecovative’s innovative mycelium products have seemingly endless applications that are realigning business with the cycles of nature and regenerating the planet.

For millions of years, mycelium has powered the systems of nature by transforming decaying matter into essential nutrients. Now, Ecovative is harnessing its potential as a supermaterial to prevent plastic pollution and waste materials, conserve critical manufacturing inputs such as energy and water, drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve land management practices, create new job markets, and more.

Mycelium technology represents a new material category that not only competes with existing materials across industries, but also creates interesting new possibilities. Whether in packaging, leather replacements, construction materials, or food, their products and technology can be integrated directly into existing supply chains and processes while sparking innovation. The company has already demonstrated that they can replace materials at commercial scale, and have recently ramped up production capacities to respond to demand.

Earlier this year, Ecovative opened access to a major European patent to all individuals and businesses who wish to use its MycoComposite™ mycelium materials in their own innovations and businesses in Europe. The renewable MycoComposite material offers a nontoxic and more planet-friendly alternative to plastics and other fossil fuel–derived materials made from compostable and regenerative mushroom mycelium. The European Open Patent Program for MycoComposite is intended to encourage innovation in plastic-free products, and has the potential to stem breakthroughs in the technology which could have far reaching implications for industries seeking climate solutions.

In addition to the clear social and climate-positive benefits of mycelium, their recent advancements in production capacity, R&D processes, and strategic partnerships across industries positions Ecovative as an unparalleled leader capable of changing business for good and creating lasting positive impact.

What’s Next?

Over the next 6 months the Earthshot team will utilize a rigorous assessment process to select the 15 most inclusive, impactful and inspiring solutions to become Finalists. These finalists will be announced in the fall of 2024, and the five winners awarded the prize during the ceremony soon after. New this year, the Earthshot team is supporting nominees beyond the 15 Finalists with new initiatives and expanding the Earthshot Launchpad to connect more nominees with sources of capital. We wish our nominees the best of luck!

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PPC Business Member Ecovative announced today that it is opening access to a major European patent to all individuals and businesses who wish to use its MycoComposite™ mycelium materials in their own innovations and businesses in Europe. The renewable MycoComposite material offers a nontoxic and more planet-friendly alternative to plastics and other fossil fuel–derived materials made from compostable and regenerative mushroom mycelium.

Ecovative’s MycoComposite material enables the manufacturing of products that are free of forever chemicals (PFAS) and other toxic substances too commonly found in household products, like formaldehyde. Ecovative’s patent outlines a strategic blueprint for the creation of eco-friendly and renewable mushroom mycelium composites—and makes it available to others to use. 

In 2023, Plastic Pollution Coalition nominated Ecovative to be considered for the prestigious Earthshot Prize, which aims to infuse more optimism into solving today’s biggest environmental challenges by highlighting the ability of human ingenuity to bring about positive change, and inspire collective action.

Mushroom Mycelium is a More People- and Planet-Friendly Choice

Ecovative’s MycoComposite is made of mycelium grown on unused parts of plants, such as hemp scraps, that would otherwise be wasted by the agriculture industry. As a material, MycoComposite requires reduced inputs of energy, water, and other precious resources compared to other material options. It is a non-toxic option for replacing single-use materials, which can help reduce climate-warming CO2 emissions and other pollution across a wide range of industries.

The European Open Patent Program for MycoComposite is intended to encourage innovation in plastic-free products. The patent is already in use around the world in protective packaging, construction materials, architecture, and innovative applications to replace petrochemical use. Several successful businesses have already been launched using MycoComposite, notably Loop Biotech, which makes mycelium coffins and urns.

Loop Biotech has seen firsthand the huge demand for innovative, planet-friendly solutions enabled by mycelium materials. I started this company to help humanity leave a positive footprint on the Earth, which is only possible when we collaborate with living organisms like fungi.

— Bob Hendrikx, founder of Loop Biotech

How to Collaborate with Ecovative

A sharp rise of interest in Europe for entrepreneurial applications of MycoComposite make it a good place for testing the potential of open access patents to spur an increase in innovations and businesses around mycelium technology. MycoComposite licensing and partnership opportunities will continue to be available outside of Europe. The company owns numerous patents and patent applications related to mycelium manufacturing and product development globally.

The goal of Ecovative has always been to provide the ‘picks and shovels’ for a new generation of businesses realizing the potential of mycelium technology. The growing demand for environmentally beneficial products and processes is creating immense new opportunities not to reinvent the wheel, but to change what the wheel is made of, and we’re excited to see the new discoveries and scalable solutions made with this versatile technology, for the benefit of Spaceship Earth.

— Eben Bayer, Ecovative co-founder and CEO

Learn more about how sustainable businesses can get involved with the open MycoComposite European patent and find out what it means for the future of mycelium materials. And take action in your own life to refuse single-use plastic.

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Plastic Pollution Coalition is excited to announce our six nominees for The Earthshot Prize 2023. We are honored to be among the 370 official Nominators from 67 countries to select projects with ambitious but achievable goals for our planet and society 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. The prize aims to infuse more optimism into solving today’s biggest environmental challenges by highlighting the ability of human ingenuity to bring about positive change, and inspire collective action. Winners of The Earthshot Prize will be awarded GBP £1 million, along with additional support to help scale their impact.

This year we have selected nominees addressing the root causes and consequences of the plastic pollution crisis with amazing and inspiring solutions. Together, these nominees are: working to reduce plastic production and use, calling for accountability from the industries causing plastic pollution, centering people over profits, and focusing on the interconnectedness of human and ecological health. Importantly, while these projects are already making waves, they also have the potential to scale in the next few years to make an even greater impact.Without further ado, our 2022 nominees for The Earthshot Prize are (in alphabetical order):

1. Blue Mind (Dr. Wallace J Nichols)

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with blue marble. Photo by Blue Mind

The Blue Mind Movement helps people reconnect with their innate biological and emotional connections to water, improving human well-being and inspiring Earth’s protection and restoration.

Dr. Wallace J Nichols intends to connect every human with their Blue Mind, a water-induced state of calm, unity, and inspired will to protect and restore nature. This positive, holistic, values-based solution simultaneously addresses human well-being in a time of despair, and environmental protection in a time of destruction. Backed by scientific research and spiritual and Indigenous wisdom, Blue Mind reestablishes our inherent connection to water as a healing power. When we repair our broken relationship with water, we restore harmony within ourselves. While industry marketing departments have relied on neuroscience-based research and various behavioral levers (e.g., the emotional pull of calming water imagery) for decades to sell products, Dr. Nichols is among the first to bring this strategy to environmental organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and more. Dr. Nichol’s heart-centered work has become a global movement and inspired groups across the world to protect and restore natural areas, using awe and connection rather than guilt and fear to inspire action (e.g., Blue Mind turned turtle poachers into turtle protectors). Blue Mind is universal, cost-effective, accessible to all, and has enabled mass participation, reaching over 1 billion people so far, including Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

2. California Office of the Attorney General

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announces his office’s investigation into fossil fuel and petrochemical industries. Photo by Office of the California State Attorney General

Securing California’s legacy as an environmental leader through historic investigations into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries on behalf of people and the planet.

In 2022, the California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) launched a series of historic investigations into the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries—the first of their kind by a state or federal government anywhere in the world. Among other actions, CA Attorney General Rob Bonta subpoenaed Exxon-Mobil for information concerning the company’s role in deceiving the public about the recyclability of single-use plastics, and demanded plastic bag producers demonstrate that their bags are truly recyclable (they’re not). The CA DOJ’s decision to take on these industries has received international recognition for its goals and implications, which include: exposing and potentially prosecuting the deceptive tactics of the plastics industry to mislead the public about the environmental impacts of their products, inspiring other states and federal governments to follow suit, and creating industry accountability that could change the landscape of plastic production and decrease plastic pollution at the source. Mr. Bonta intends to address over 50 years of corruption and deception within these polluting industries, setting a groundbreaking precedent that no company is too big to be held responsible for their actions. This solution is one of courage, deserving to be recognized globally and emulated in jurisdictions around the world.

3. Ecovative

Ecovative’s combined mycelium technology. Photo by Ecovative

Growing compostable replacements for plastics and animal agriculture from mushroom mycelium to provide environmentally friendly, cost-effective, versatile material alternatives for a variety of high-polluting industries.

Ecovative’s mycelium technology—based on the intelligent nature of fungal fibers—is an environmentally restorative solution that can be rapidly scaled and applied to some of the worst-polluting and climate-destroying industries. Whether replacing harmful plastics in car seats, product packaging, and clothing, or preventing factory farming by outselling pork bacon, Ecovative’s innovative mycelium products are realigning businesses and industries with the cycles of nature and regenerating the planet. Ecovative intends to expand mycelium across as many industries as possible, illustrated through the one-of-a-kind Mycelium Foundry algorithmic design process. Their solution not only provides farmers across the world with a sustainable revenue replacement, but can be installed directly into their existing infrastructure to be produced today. Like the root structures of mushrooms, mycelium technology seemingly has no limits, acting as the base of commercially competitive products in a wide range of industries that can be produced at scale with a fraction of the environmental impact.

4. LOLIWARE

LOLIWARE’s seaweed-derived pellets and founder Sea Briganti. Photo by LOLIWARE

Seaweed-derived pellets that create replacements to single-use items made from plastic.

LOLIWARE’S SEA technology is in a unique position to significantly disrupt the plastic manufacturing process and catalyze a systemic shift away from single-use petroleum-based plastic products. Because their seaweed-based pellets are universally compatible with most plastic-manufacturing equipment and facilities, LOLIWARE’s technology is ready to scale rapidly without significant infrastructure changes. Their technology is unique because of the wide range of applications that are possible, providing a direct replacement for plastic building blocks without using land-based crops such as corn or soy, which have negative environmental impacts from monocropping and fertilizer usage. Unlike other so-called “bio-based” plastic products, LOLIWARE’s seaweed-based products are actually biodegradable and will decompose if they find their way into waterways or other natural environments, and do not require industrial composting after use. LOLIWARE sources ocean-farmed seaweed that is sustainably grown without the use of harmful chemicals (e.g., fertilizers), captures 5 to 20 times more climate-warming carbon than land-based crops, and creates economic opportunity for coastal communities along the way. Seaweed farming is not only a sustainable source of employment, but has positive environmental benefits for marine life and strengthens aquatic ecosystem resiliency.

5. Plastic-Free July

Plastic-free food. Photo by Vandana Kh

Plastic Free July is a global social movement that inspires millions of people annually to collectively avoid 300+ million kgs of plastic from polluting the world.

Plastic-Free July is a global movement that fosters connection and healthy communities by leading collective action against plastic pollution. Their open-source platform is based on neuroscience research and provides people with the resources and opportunities to participate in a paradigm shift that opens hearts and minds to reconsider our relationship with waste. The initiative reduces 300+ million kgs of plastic pollution every year and is playing an instrumental role in The Global Plastics Treaty negotiations and other international efforts by centering the voices of underrepresented communities around the world. This social movement can be scaled rapidly, does not require significant investment or infrastructure, and has potential to massively expand its reach, empowering billions of people to create a just transition towards a world free from plastic pollution. When movements are energized, governments and industry follow suit and are forced to make plastic pollution a priority. Plastic-Free July is a movement capable of changing the world, restoring a harmonious relationship between people and planet.

6. Project 17 (AY Young)

AY Young’s Project 17 voices the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Photo by AY Young

AY Young’s Project 17 uses music, art, and culture to advance all 17 of the UN SDGs and inspires climate action across demographics and regions.

Through “Project 17,” notable entertainer AY Young leverages music, a universal language with no boundaries, to mobilize people—particularly youth—to build bridges to one another and work towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Project 17 builds on AY’s success in the Battery Tour, a renewable-powered tour with over 900 concerts thus far. AY is one of 17 Youth Leader’s for the UN’s Generation 17—the only one from the United States. In 2022, AY began developing a music album based on the UN SDGs. Each of the 17 songs of Project 17 will represent a different SDG, with collaborations with 17 prominent recording artists, as well as non-profit partners and businesses. The project is growing rapidly and inspiring millions of people to take action in their communities and put pressure on leaders to take bolder action towards the SDGs. While many sustainable investment projects are prescribed by western investors and driven by profit, Project 17 diverts all of the funds raised directly to Implementation Partners—local community leaders and organizations best positioned to carry out sustainable projects to better serve their constituents. AY Young and Project 17 have the potential to heal the world through music, collaboration, passion, and love. 

What’s Next?

The Earthshot Prize team will now begin the process of evaluating the various solutions nominated from around the world—including these six nominees—and will choose winners later this year. We congratulate our nominees and wish them the very best of luck!

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Plastic Pollution Coalition is seeking scalable solutions to nominate for The Earthshot Prize, as one 334 official Nominators from 80 countries selected by The Earthshot Prize team in 2022 for “their leadership in repairing our planet, as well as their networks with individuals, teams, and organisations from all corners of the world, who are leading on solutions to the pressing environmental challenges that we face today.” Winners of The Earthshot Prize will be granted GBP £1 million, along with additional support to help scale their impact.

What We’re Looking for at Plastic Pollution Coalition

At PPC, we will prioritize nominating projects 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 bigger impact. We will give preference to those groups and individuals who are members or partners of Plastic Pollution Coalition. Not a member yet? Join here.

According to The Earthshot Prize team, the proposed impact should be realistic and achievable by 2025. At PPC, we expect we will nominate projects primarily in the Build A Waste-Free Worldand Fix Our Climate Earthshot categories, but realize that solutions to plastic pollution fit into multiple categories.

 


About The Earthshot Prize

Launched by Prince William and The Royal Foundation in October 2020, The Earthshot Prize is the most prestigious global environment prize in history, designed to incentivize change and help repair our planet over the next 10 years. The Prize 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.

The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next 10 years present us with one of our greatest tests—a decade of action to repair the Earth.

Prince William

The Five Earthshots

Taking inspiration from President John F. Kennedy’s Moonshot, which united millions of people around an organizing goal to put man on the moon and catalyzed the development of new technology in the 1960s, The Earthshot Prize is centered around five ‘Earthshots’ – simple but ambitious goals for our planet, which if achieved by 2030 will improve life for us all, for generations to come. The five Earthshots are: Protect & Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build A Waste-Free World, and Fix Our Climate.

Protect & Restore Nature
Protect & Restore Nature
Revive Our Oceans
Build a Waste Free World
Fix Our Climate

Each Earthshot is underpinned by scientifically agreed targets including the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other internationally recognized measures to help repair our planet. By bringing these five critical issues together, The Earthshot Prize recognizes the interconnectivity between environmental challenges and the urgent need to tackle them together.

The Prize: One Million Pounds (GBP) and More!

Winners of The Earthshot Prize will be granted GBP £1million to scale their impact. Winners and Finalists are also given a global platform and profile and tailored support from the Prize’s Global Alliance network, including in-kind support and partnership opportunities.

Thank You For Submitting Nominations

Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination. We are no longer accepting nominations. We will notify those projects we are moving forward for consideration on February 18.