Researchers who have replaced plastic packaging with seaweed are among those who have received a £1m prize from the Prince of Wales’ Earthshot fund.
Aimed at rewarding innovative solutions to tackle climate and biodiversity issues, the award is named after former US President John F Kennedy’s Moonshot challenge in the 1960s, which united millions of people around the goal of putting a man on the moon within a decade. .
At a star-studded ceremony in Boston, Massachusetts, Prince William announced the five winners of his award, which was launched in 2020. He and the Princess of Wales were joined by celebrities including Annie Lennox, Billie Eilish, David Beckham, Ellie Goulding and Rami Malek.
The Prince told the audience: “I think the Earthshot solutions you have seen this evening prove that we can overcome the planet’s greatest challenges. And by supporting and scaling them, we can change our future. Alongside tonight’s winners and finalists, and those to be discovered in the years to come, it is my hope that the Earthshot legacy will continue to grow, helping our communities and our planet thrive.”
One of the winners was the British company Notpla, which makes an alternative to plastic packaging from seaweed. The startup has created a natural and biodegradable plastic alternative made from seaweed and plants and can be used to make a variety of packaging products, such as a bubble to hold liquids, a coating for food containers and a paper for the cosmetics and fashion industries. The company has made more than 1 million takeaway food boxes for delivery website Just Eat, so far.
Pierre Paslier, one of the founders of Notpla, said: “No one wants to live in a world full of plastic waste, but it is not too late to act. There has never been a better time to use natural solutions to solve the plastic challenge.”
Another winner was a group of indigenous women who have been monitoring the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Their project combines 60,000 years of indigenous knowledge with digital technologies to protect land and sea. The Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef program has trained more than 60 women, who have provided scientific data as well as protecting sites of great cultural and spiritual significance.
An Oman-based company that has developed a technique to reverse CO2 in rock and permanently store it underground, with the aim of mineralizing 1,000 tonnes of locally captured CO22 every year until 2024, also won an award.
Other projects that took home an award include a startup that provided cleaner-burning stoves to women in Kenya to reduce indoor pollution and provide a safer way to cook, and a company that supplies sustainable greenhouses to farmers in India.