May 29, 2024

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How Prince William’s eco-prize is already helping the planet

It’s all systems go for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize lately. It was only recently revealed that one of Asia’s greenest cities – Singapore – will be the location of the third annual award ceremony in November. Now we’re hearing about a new partnership between the Prince of Wales’ initiative and online video platform YouTube.

The two-year affiliation will see the production of mini-documentaries, Q&As and creator collaborations designed to educate audiences on climate change and sustainability, Kensington Palace revealed on Tuesday.

The palace said the goals were to build “an engaged sustainability community” and help the prize “reach younger and more international audiences who we know care passionately about this issue.”

As a quick refresher, Earthshot is Prince William’s ambitious 10-year project to tackle some of the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges. Launched in 2020, each year five winners are selected from the shortlist at a glitzy ceremony, with each receiving a prize of £1 million (about $1.12 million). The idea being that by 2030 at least 50 ideas will have been funded by the project, according to organizers.

The environment has become a central theme of the work from the heir to the British throne. His trip to Boston late last year for the second iteration of his eco-prize garnered praise for raising awareness of pollution and climate change in urban settings and celebrating the city’s solutions-based approach.

William is the third generation in his family to bring the planet’s crisis to the forefront of duties. Many remember the decades-long efforts of his grandfather, Prince Philip, and his father, King Charles III.

Charles may have banged the climate drum — and sometimes been ridiculed for doing so — more prominently when he was Prince of Wales, but as King he is now expected to take a more neutral stance on green issues. This leaves William with an opening to step forward as royal climate champion and his multi-million-pound award is the vehicle he’s using to do so.

But away from the glitzy awards ceremony, some have wondered about the real-world impact of innovation prizes like Prince William’s. So we thought, why not ask one of the former winners?

Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez is one of the founders of London-based sustainable packaging start-up Notpla, which won the 2022 “Build a Waste-Free World” category. He told CNN winning the prize had been transformative.

Borne from an idea while at Imperial College London, Gonzalez and fellow student-turned-business partner Pierre Paslier wanted to offer a plastic-free alternative and landed on an innovative solution: seaweed


Notpla’s products are meant to be composted or dissolved after use – though some are edible, too. Current offerings include sachets for condiments, water and even alcohol; a film wrap for products in your pantry or bathroom, like coffee or toilet paper; and takeaway boxes that replace plastic-based coating with seaweed lining to make them fully biodegradable.

“As a consumer, you are surrounded by plastic, but you don’t know where that plastic comes from and where it goes. You don’t know the cost of plastic, the real costs, as well and how it goes into our air, into our water, into our oceans or, how much we are subsidizing plastic to a certain extent,” Gonzalez explained. “It’s good to have this platform that brings all the solutions together to be able to have a common understanding of some of the big issues.”