£4m low carbon refrigeration investment makes ‘green’ ice cream

Mac Mackie and Gerry Stephens
Mac Mackie and Gerry Stephens

Mackie’s of Scotland is installing a new refrigeration system set to be one of the most sophisticated in Europe as it strives to be one of the greenest companies in Britain.

In a £4million project, the ice cream brand will replace its existing freezing equipment with low carbon, power efficient units run on ammonia – a natural refrigerant gas that poses no threat to the environment.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

Why? Free to subscribe, no paywall, daily business news digest.

The innovative combined solution will cool Mackie’s ice cream with heat from a biomass boiler, powered by a sustainable energy source.

This will be Scotland’s first large scale plant combining biomass heat and absorption chilling, enabling Mackie’s to target ambitious CO2e reductions of 90% and energy costs of 70-80%.

The £4 million project is being brought to life thanks to a grant from the Scottish Government Government’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme, match funded by Mackie’s through a loan from Bank of Scotland.

The investment will be open as a demonstrator project in the hope that its success will inspire other Scottish fish, meat and dairy food manufacturers to adopt similar energy-efficient technology.

Mackie’s is changing the gas that it uses in its refrigeration plants from HCFC gases – which have a very high global warming potential – to ammonia, which has zero global warming potential.

Gerry Stephens, Finance Director at Mackie’s of Scotland, said: “Our ultimate aim is to one day go completely off-grid and use 100% renewable energy. This is an important step towards realising these green ambitions.

“We’re very excited about this project as, the technologies involved are tried-and-tested methods but have not been commonly combined to produce low-carbon, energy efficient fridges.

“With Bank of Scotland’s support we are realising our green ambitions and, in the long run, we hope that our new system will set a precedent and make the energy-intensive food and drink sector more sustainable.

Mackie’s already produces over 10 million litres of ice cream every year using more than 70% renewable energy thanks to its Aberdeenshire farm’s wind turbines and solar panels.

Marc Gilmour, Relationship Director, Bank of Scotland, said: “Since the first production of ice cream in 1986, Mackie’s have been leaders in low carbon initiatives and renewables.

“This project will help the Scottish Government to meet its Energy Strategy targets, which aim to generate 50 per cent of Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2030.

“Bank of Scotland is fully committed to playing a key role in funding Scotland’s transition to a green economy and helping Britain prosper. By utilising our expertise and Clean Growth Finance Initiative we want to make business’ green projects happen.

“Bank of Scotland has also committed to helping businesses in Scotland become more green. This is supported by a commitment to train 450 relationship managers by June on sustainability in partnership with the University of Cambridges’ Institute for Sustainability Leadership.”

Planning permission is now being sought and a project manager has been employed with the target to begin foundation work before the summer.

The latest stories