Hackney zero waste Topup Truck raises thousands for expansion

Founder Ella Shone in her milk float turned Hackney Topup Truck. 

Founder Ella Shone in her milk float turned Hackney Topup Truck. - Credit: Ella Shone

A milk float turned mobile zero-waste shop is on target to raise £15,000 through crowdfunding to reduce everyday plastic waste in Hackney.

Ella Shone, 32, from Clapton, set up her business, Topup Truck, when on furlough in August, converting a milk float into a local solution for plastic free shopping.

“It's a mobile zero waste shop that people can book to come to their streets,” said Ella, who has worked on the project full time since November.

“Neighbours can fill up on groceries, bathroom and household products without any plastic packaging and without people having to lug all their empties to somewhere further away.”

Hannah, a Topup Truck customer, receives her groceries. 

Hannah, a Topup Truck customer, receives her groceries. - Credit: Ella Shone

Based in Hackney Downs Studios, the project delivers ethically sourced local food and supplies to shoppers in the borough.


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Since its launch, it has saved more than 15,000 pieces of plastic from being used and has built up a loyal customer base in the hundreds.

“The crowdfunder has been really successful,” said Ella, explaining that the campaign was launched at the start of March to raise money to convert the float into a lockable unit.

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Topup Truck currently operates three days per week with one member of staff and several volunteers who Ella hopes to take on as paid hires with the money raised.

After reaching an initial crowdfunding goal of £7,000 within the first three days of launching, the campaign is nearing its second stretch target of £15,000 with just under one week to go.

The additional funds will go towards setting up a more advanced IT system and the launch of a milkman-style returnable container service.

Going forward, Ella hopes to see the business expand beyond London. “Millions of tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans each year,” said Ella. “And it's just an avoidable issue.

"I think a lot of the supermarkets are reluctant to go plastic free because of the additional staffing that it entails. My guess is that they're prioritising profitability over this issue.”

Topup Truck is offering rewards to encourage contributions to the fundraiser, including a wine tasting experience and family photo opportunities.

Hannah, a Topup Truck customer, receives her groceries. 

Hannah, a Topup Truck customer, receives her groceries. - Credit: Ella Shone

The project has received support from sustainable energy company, Octopus Energy, who will be adding a “big neon Octopus” to the float.

Topup Truck’s crowdfunding campaign closes at 9am on April, with rewards distributed thereafter.

Donate to the campaign by clicking here.

Rear view of the Topup Truck.

The crowdfunder will help expand the project and its mission to tackle plastic waste. - Credit: Ella Shone


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