The TopUp Truck

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Ella Shone is the founder of TopUp Truck, a refill store on wheels that delivers plastic-free groceries to Londoners. It's such a good idea and offers exceptional convenience - expect to see a lot more TopUp Trucks on city streets in the future.

When 'you know what' struck in March 2020, Ella Shone was hit by a light-bulb moment. Plastic pollution was mounting, with personal protective equipment (PPE) being handed en masse and single-use packaging on the rise.

Hailing from a food and wholesale background, Ella realised there was something she could do to help. She purchased an old electric milk float (an open-sided van) and revamped it herself, thus creating a zero-emissions refill store on wheels. Now Ella could deliver groceries straight to people’s doors - without any single-use plastic. She wanted to make it easier for people to do their shopping without having to throw away the packaging waste most products come wrapped in at supermarkets.

Ella soon amassed thousands of customers in her native Hackney who were keen to refill their household essentials every week, rather than go out and buy them new, reports EuroNewsGreen.

From lentils to pasta and olive oil to laundry liquid, the Top-Up Truck has over 150 products on board. Customers simply bring their own containers to fill up with Ella’s goods. This great, environmentally sound business idea has taken off. Ella has now moved into a new warehouse space to stock all her produce and added more storage dispensers to the truck.

Ella has just received funding from ReLondon (a circular economy programme run by the Mayor of London and London’s boroughs) and is partnering with schools and nurseries to help parents with their shopping needs.

“It’s a great way to get kids thinking about plastic pollution and their environmental impact from an early age in a fun and experiential way,” says Ella.

To date, her business has eliminated the need for over 28,000 pieces of plastic and she hopes to increase this figure exponentially by expanding to other boroughs of London and eventually further afield. For all her hard work, Ella has been nominated for a GBEA Sustainability Entrepreneur award and was shortlisted in two categories in the National Recycling Awards.