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Soap boss cleans up energy savings

Swathe of changes supports business’s green goals

Soap business boss Tracey Phillips knew there was no reason to get in a lather when she decided to look at making energy efficiency changes.

The owner of Ness Soaps was confident that the support of Zero Waste Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Business Support Service would help her make the right choices. She said:

“The advice I received from Zero Waste Scotland was very valuable. It allowed me to make informative decisions and showed me that I could reduce my energy costs, while doing my bit for the environment.”

Ness Soaps, in Inverness, was established in 2005 by Merkinch Enterprise and was run by them until The Calman Trust acquired it in 2014 and ran it as one of their social enterprises. Tracey joined the company in 2015 as production coach in Ness Soaps before taking ownership in 2020.

The company produces Scottish soaps and body products for personal, hospitality and trade customers in the Highlands and further afield. It also supports young people in the Highlands to improve their life chances.

Zero Waste Scotland supported Tracey when she decided to build a new workshop, which she wanted to be as energy efficient as possible. An experienced consultant did an assessment of the site and produced a report with recommendations that included:

  • LED lighting
  • An air source heat pump
  • Insulate roof, walls and floor of the building
  • Double glazing
  • Energy efficient production equipment

The report indicated that if the recommendations were implemented Tracey could achieve annual cost savings of £639 and a reduction of 1.2 tonnes of COwhen compared with a similar building that didn’t incorporate the energy-saving measures.

“I was given advice on how I could reduce my energy consumption, and what the savings would likely be. All the measures which Zero Waste Scotland advised have now been installed and completed.”

Tracey took advantage of a Scottish Government interest-free SME Loan that came with a cashback grant to help fund the changes with the proceeds from her home sale making up the difference. She was able to keep her building costs down with husband Nick, son Daniel and brother-in-law James doing a lot of the work.

One of the key changes that has made a big difference to the business was the installation of a melting tank to help with the production process. She had previously used two soup kettles to melt the ingredients used to make the soap, but introducing the melting tank has allowed Ness Soaps to increase production capacity.

“It allows us to work more efficiently, while lowering our overall energy consumption. Previously, I could make 33 soaps at a time, using my soup kettles. The melting tank increases the capacity to 250.”

She added:

“Installing the measures has enabled my workshop to be used comfortably all year round. My products are kept in optimum condition because of the consistent temperature created by the air pump and underfloor heating. Without having to put conventional heaters on the wall, I also have more working space.


“As I will be working with young people, some of whom have learning difficulties, it is important that the workplace is a comfortable place for them. It is just much better all round.”


Tracey said that without the support, she would have faced higher running costs and limited use of the workshop during the cold winter months.

“I believe that had I not received the support from Zero Waste Scotland, and the SME Loan, that the service I would be able to provide would be restricted to the warmer months, as I would have struggled to find the funds to insulate and install the great heating system.  Everyone who has visited the workshop has commented on how cosy it feels.


“Your first year in business is always challenging, but with the support I have received from Zero Waste Scotland, and the SME Loan/cashback, I have been able to move forward in a very positive way, while knowing Ness Soaps is doing its bit for the environment.” 


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