Hexbyte Glen Cove Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Ella Shone serves a customer from her electric milk float converted into a zero waste shop which brings “packaging-free” shopping to people’s doors.

Ella Shone’s small electric truck used to deliver milk but now she drives it around London, selling groceries and household goods that are free of plastic packaging.

The 32-year-old bought her “top-up truck” last year after the first coronavirus lockdown got her thinking about innovative ways to reduce waste.

She has found plenty of demand for her service, with customers scooping up dry groceries such as lentils or filling bottles from large dispensers of vinegar or washing detergent.

On a rainy day in May, the 32-year-old plied a route to eight stops in the up-and-coming district of Hackney in northeast London.

“It’s very straightforward: it’s a bit like a go-cart ride,” she said of driving the truck, which has a top speed of 30 miles (48 kilometres) per hour.

But she admitted the steering can get “a bit bumpy”.

At one stop, three customers bought dried mango, pasta, raisins and shampoo.

The mobile shop was created to bring “packaging-free” shopping to people’s doors, tapping into a growing demand for deliveries during the stay-at-home restrictions.

“I felt that there was a need to make it easier, to make it more accessible, more visible,” she said.

Nevertheless, she wasn’t immediately sure her idea was viable.

The electric vehicles were once commonly used by milkmen and women to deliver pint bottles of fresh milk on household doorsteps.

“When I started this, I thought I’d gone a bit mad on furlough leave”, she admitted.

During lockdown, Shone was on government-subsidised leave from her job in sales at a company producing sustainable condiments.

She decided to buy the truck with the money she saved during lockdown, wanting to offer a “community shopping experience”.

The truck deliveries launched in August last year and customers can book a stop online.

The electric vehicles—known commonly as milk floats—were once commonly used by milkmen and women to deliver pint bottles of fresh milk on household doorsteps.

Customers returned them for reuse and Shone says her truck prompts a “nostalgic” reaction.

But she is responding to very current concerns over , which disintegrates over time, creating ubiquitous microplastic pollution.

Activism targeting governments and corporations can help, she said, but added: “I think there’s a lot that needs to be done at consumer level.”

Ella Shone says her truck prompts a “nostalgic” reaction.

Pandemic ‘awakening’

The UK is the world’s second biggest producer of waste per person behind the United States, according to Greenpeace.

A study published in January by Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency found that the 10 largest supermarket chains in the UK reduced their use of plastic by just 1.6 percent in 2019, despite promises of change.

Shone is nevertheless optimistic about people’s motivation to cut down on wasteful packaging.

“During the pandemic, there has been a bit of a step back towards single-use (plastic) just because people are fearful of reusing something that might entail passing on COVID-19,” she said.

“But against that tide, I think there has been a bit of an awakening in terms of our responsibility towards the environment.”

In April, she raised £15,000 ($21,000) through a crowd-funding campaign, which allowed her to add more shelves to her float. She has also left her previous job.

Ultimately, Shone would like to see a ban on plastic packaging.

“There are so many areas where plastic is completely unnecessary and the government is not putting regulations on what corporations are allowed to do,” she said.

“And the recycling infrastructure is quite terrible as well.”

© 2021 AFP

Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries (2021, May 29)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Exploring the source of stars and planets in a laboratory thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Exploring the source of stars and planets in a laboratory

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Physicist Himawan Winarto with figures from paper behind him. Credit: Elle Starkman/PPPL Office of Communications.

A new method for verifying a widely held but unproven theoretical explanation of the formation of stars and planets has been proposed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). The method grows from simulation of the Princeton Magnetorotational Instability (MRI) Experiment, a unique laboratory device that aims to demonstrate the MRI process that is believed to have filled the cosmos with celestial bodies.

Cosmic dust

The novel device, designed to duplicate the process that causes swirling clouds of and plasma to collapse into stars and planets, consists of two fluid-filled concentric cylinders that rotate at different speeds. The device seeks to replicate the instabilities that are thought to cause the swirling clouds to gradually shed what is called their and collapse into the growing bodies that they orbit. Such momentum keeps the Earth and other planets firmly within their orbits.

“In our simulations we can actually see the MRI develop in experiments,” said Himawan Winarto, a graduate student in the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics at PPPL and lead author of a paper in Physical Review E interest in the subject began as an intern in the University of Tokyo-Princeton University Partnership on Plasma Physics while an undergraduate at Princeton University.

The suggested system would measure the strength of the radial, or circular, that the rotating inner cylinder generates in experiments. Since the strength of the field correlates strongly with expected turbulent instabilities, the measurements could help pinpoint the source of the turbulence.

“Our overall objective is to show the world that we’ve unambiguously seen the MRI effect in the lab,” said physicist Erik Gilson, one of Himawan’s mentors on the project and a coauthor of the paper. “What Himawan is proposing is a new way to look at our measurements to get at the essence of MRI.”

Surprising results

The simulations have shown some surprising results. While MRI is normally observable only at a sufficiently high rate of cylinder rotation, the new findings indicate that instabilities can likely be seen well before the upper limit of the experimental rotation rate is reached. “That means speeds much closer to the rates we are running now,” Winarto said, “and projects to the rotational speed that we should aim for to see MRI.”

A key challenge to spotting the source of MRI is the existence of other effects that can act like MRI but are not in fact the process. Prominent among these deceptive effects are what are called Rayleigh instabilities that break up fluids into smaller packets, and Ekman circulation that alters the profile of fluid flow. The new simulations clearly indicate “that MRI, rather than Ekman circulation or Rayleigh instability, dominates the fluid behavior in the region where MRI is expected,” Winarto said.

The findings thus shed new light on the growth of stars and planets that populate the universe. “Simulations are very useful to point you in the right direction to help interpret some of the diagnostic results of experiments,” Gilson said. “What we see from these results is that the signals for MRI look like they should be able to be seen more easily in experiments than we had previously thought.”

More information:
Himawan W. Winarto et al, Parameter space mapping of the Princeton magnetorotational instability experiment, Physical Review E (2020). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.102.023113

Exploring the source of stars and planets in a laboratory (2020, October 23)
retrieved 25 October 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-10-exploring-source-stars-planets-laboratory.html