Mackie’s of Scotland is set to cut energy use and carbon emissions by up to 80%.

Scotland’s greenest SME and leading ice cream manufacturer has created a new refrigeration system which significantly reduces carbon emissions and is powered by heat energy from a new biomass system.

Mackie’s of Scotland make one of the nation’s favourite ice creams. Two decades ago, Mackie’s family business started on its quest to be the nation’s greenest SME, long before sustainability issues were hitting the headlines. Through its ‘sky to scoop’ approach, the company makes all the ice cream on their Aberdeenshire farm, along with several ingredients and the packaging, and they power the business with their own renewable energy.

A huge part of the Mackie’s sustainability drive is focused on their determination to become 100% self-sufficient in renewable energy. The company have four wind turbines and a solar panel farm which together have 5MW capacity, generating over four times as much energy as they need.

The farm offices are also heated by biomass and there are additional solar panels on the byre roof – powering the milking equipment. Mackie’s were pioneers in early wind power and continue to advocate both their environmental and commercial benefits – selling excess electricity to the grid provides the company with a steady financial income, creates a reasonable payback period (est.5 years) and (having their own power) protects the company from rising energy prices.

Mackie’s mission does not stop there, this year the company are about to complete their biggest project yet, a £4.5 million project to create a new low carbon refrigeration system. An innovative combination of tried and tested technology, the new system replaces the old refrigerant gases with ammonia, a natural gas with zero climate warming potential and some carbon dioxide with a very low climate warming potential of 1. (About 4000 times less than the old refrigerant gases.) In addition, the system will use heat energy from a new biomass system via an absorption chiller.

The new system is projected to cut energy use and carbon emissions by up to 80%. The project’s outstanding environmental credentials led to the award of a grant of £2.1million from the Scottish Government to enable creation of an exemplar low carbon system for other food and drink companies. Mackie’s match funding for the balance of costs were made possible with the support of the Bank of Scotland’s Clean Growth Finance Initiative.

This will be Scotland’s first fully working, commercial sized, biomass and absorption chilling demonstrator plant, and Mackie’s hopes its success will inspire the Scottish fish, meat and dairy processing sectors to adopt similar energy-efficient technology.

SMEs represent 99% of all UK businesses and account for almost half of all business-related emissions. Mackie’s are leading the march to arm other SMEs with the information and inspiration they need to support their journeys to Net Zero.

From Now to Net Zero: A Practical Guide for SMEs

Small and medium-sized businesses play a vital role in sustainability and the journey to Net Zero. Our research report outlines a five-step plan for SMEs to get on that journey.

Sustainability Hub

Supporting Scottish businesses transition to low-carbon, sustainable business models and operations to pursue new clean growth opportunities.

Clean Growth Financing Initiative

Access discounted lending for green purposes from small improvements to large-scale infrastructure.