Ashers Ice Cream, based in Stirling, sells a variety of ice creams, drinks and sweets at locations including Edinburgh and Stirling Castle as well as outdoor events across Scotland.
The business was acquired by new owners three years ago who introduced a new sustainability-focused strategy. Striving for a net-zero future, the company recently purchased three new ice cream vans that use diesel Euro 6 engines, which the company said are the most efficient of its kind, while the vans also benefit from solar energy power to charge when stationary. The business has also converted all packaging to 100% biodegradable or compostable options.
Ashers Ice Cream secured a six-figure funding package from Bank of Scotland to help purchase the new vehicles and convert two others.
The business now plans to invest more than £1.5m ($2m) over the next five years to renew the rest of its fleet and build a new zero-emissions ice cream factory and vehicle storage facility in Stirling. The new building will include ground-source and air-source heat pumps, solar panels, a 100% paperless office and energy-efficient lighting.
Gary Horne, owner of Ashers Ice Cream, said, “We’re hugely passionate about the environment and want to do all we can as a business to make sure we’re running on the lowest emissions possible.
“When we came across this new electric ice cream van, we knew it was best option for our long-term goal of becoming 100% carbon neutral. Thanks to the support from Bank of Scotland, we’ve been able to secure the funding that allowed us to buy our first, of what we hope will be many, of these vans.
“It’s also a great talking point with our customers as you’d never expect an ice cream van to run off electricity let alone solar power, especially with the weather here in Scotland. We can’t wait to see what the next couple of years bring as we introduce even more green ways of working as we continue to serve up our ice cream across the country.”
Brian Kerr, relationship manager at Bank of Scotland, said, “Ashers Ice Cream has been operating since the 1930s, so seeing the strategy evolve over the years to align with environmental changes is just brilliant.
“We’re proud to support businesses like this to meet their green ambitions as we all work towards a more sustainable future. As we head towards Scotland’s net zero goals, we’ll continue helping firms access the support they need to lower their emissions and ultimately, protect our planet.”
Bank of Scotland has committed a £2bn ($2.68bn) fund to support businesses impacted by Covid-19. This provides for additional fee-free lending to SMEs (up to £25m/$33m turnover) and capital repayment holidays. For SMEs with a turnover above £3m ($4m), the bank has set up a fast track process to provide faster credit approval.