As major users of vehicles and technologies that can have a detrimental effect on the environmentThe Malcolm Group is taking all possible steps to mitigate any adverse effects. Here, Environmental & Sustainability Director John McGrory highlights how the business is determined to show respect for the environment, take responsibility for reducing impact and also help its customers to do the same


SUSTAINABLE business practices have been at the heart of our 100 years history – putting people at the heart, building successful partnerships for longevity, and looking at new innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

As part of our sustainability strategy, our key progress areas are across climate action, resource efficiency and sustainable partnerships.

As a business we: 

■ Maintain and operate a highly efficient fleet. 
■ See rail transport as a key component of reducing greenhouse gases, moving over 700,000 containers and taking over 20 million miles off the UK road network by rail.
■ Trial and utilise alternative non-fossil fuels and new power technologies. 
■ Participate and use our industry experience to drive future industry direction. 
This includes our participation in the Zero Emission Truck Taskforce (ZETT) resulting in the publication of the HGV Decarbonisation Pathway by Transport Scotland in March 2024. 
■ Work in partnership with our customers and suppliers to bring added value to all stakeholders. 
In 2023 we signed a letter of commitment to the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) and currently advancing the finalisation of our near term and long-term carbon reduction targets across our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. 


TRANSPORT is the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions - accounting for 26% of the UK’s total emissions in 2021. 

The Malcolm Group is actively taking steps to help make sure all our operations as environmentally friendly as possible.

The Herald:

As with most industries transition towards a net zero future brings with it both opportunities and challenges. 

Decarbonising road freight must balance the operational needs and customer expectations. 

Travel distance, refuelling times and delivery schedules must be considered alongside efforts to reduce emissions. 

Longer term, electric and hydrogen vehicles are expected to transform modern logistics. 

Until such technologies offer the operational requirements for businesses, initiatives such as use of alternative fuels, introduction of additional rail freight and maintaining a highly efficient fleet is helping the operation evolve to reduce emissions. 

We continually maximise efficiency reducing our downtime across our freight operations by operating a highly efficient operational vehicle fleet combined with planning technology systems and our experienced staff – enabling reduced downtime across our freight operations. 

Empty running is the portions of journeys in which goods are not being moved.  

By reconfiguring warehouses and depot locations, this opens more opportunity for additional load laden legs as part of a vehicles overall journey. 

Whilst some ‘empty running’ will be part of a vehicles overall journey, reducing this distance has both customer advantages as well as offering emission reductions.  

Malcolm Logistics was rated a 5 Star Operator by the European Eco Stars Fleet Recognition Scheme. 

The ECO Stars scheme encourages and assist operators of HGVs, buses, and vans to run fleets in the most efficient way.  

Upon joining the scheme, experienced industry experts undertake an operational audit to provide an overall rating of fleet efficiency. 

Malcolm Logistics achieved the highest accolade of 5-star rating post audit, in recognition of our 
strong focus on efficiency and environmental performance of our fleet. 

THE Malcolm Group has undertaken a number of trials across alternative fuels and power technology to progress our sustainability strategy. 

We recognise that to continue delivering our first-class service offerings to our customers we need to fully understand alternative fuels and technology and how these can be used to maintain goods being delivered on-time, on budget and at locations throughout the UK.

The Herald: Malcolm Logistics recently launched a new trial in partnership with Diageo to run biofuel-powered lorries, aiming to save up to 171 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This will see 11 vehicles, powered by a fuel made up of vegetable oil and hydrogen (HVO), operating into and out of Leven, the company’s largest packaging site globally

Our trials have included: 

■ Use of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) to run ten of our vehicles on a designated route. Compared with diesel, HVO provides up to 90% reduction in Well-to-Wheel CO2e emissions. 
■ We have conducted trials on the use of tractor units powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). CNG is a biogas which offers significant carbon savings. Availability of the gas throughout the UK is limited however completing the trial demonstrated that gas powered tractor units can offer like for like performance when compared with diesel engines. 
■ We trialled 2no. electric rigid trucks for local use. Due to operational demands, these trucks fell short of our requirements. However, as technology advances, electric trucks are anticipated to be more viable alongside the electricity infrastructure and capacity required for charging.

RAIL transport is increasingly seen as a key component of reducing greenhouse gases by taking trucks off the road. 

For over 20 years, The Malcolm Group have operated daily Anglo Scottish rail intermodal services moving over 700,000 containers and taking over twenty million miles off the UK road network. Offering sustainable solutions involves a combination of highly efficient road freight supported by our rail freight capability. 

In 2023 The Malcolm Group reaffirmed their long-standing commitment to rail freight by signing a new long-term contract with their chosen freight operating company Freightliner, which will help to facilitate future growth in the sector. 

On the 6th March 2024, we orchestrated the first intermodal service run for ten years, between our Elderslie Terminal and Forth Ports Limited Grangemouth. 

This trial journey was to stimulate rail freight growth in Scotland and promote the value of modal shift towards Scotland’s decarbonisation strategy. Rail freight is essential for both industry and the country to successfully meet the ambitions of net zero. Investment and support for operators is required both in the immediate and longer term. 

Support for The Mode Shift Revenue Support Scheme (MSRS), which helps operators with the costs of moving goods by rail making it more competitive with road freight, was recently withdrawn by the Scottish Government. 

Without this funding, it makes wider uptake in rail freight and further development more challenging.

To make long term growth targets within rail freight a reality, collaboration between owners, operators, industries and governments is essential to meet the challenges faced. 

Targeted infrastructure investments, stable access regime and electric traction are all key elements for sustainable rail freight growth. 

Our sustainability strategy is holistic in nature and ensures each material aspect of our business is under continual improvement with regards to efficiency. We look at the whole system approach, from long distance transport, ‘last mile’ transport, handling, and storage.  

We actively propose ‘48 tonne for 48 miles’ which seeks the increase in gross vehicle weight of intermodal traffic to 48 tonnes over a restricted distance of 48 miles from rail terminals. 

Rail freight can have up-to a 15% decrease in payload when compared with road only freight. This is due to the heavier specialised trailers and containers used for intermodal freight. 

Increasing weight to 48 tonnes would open more opportunities for modal shift of freight from road to rail, with reduction in emissions and congestion. 

The Herald: The Malcolm Group began its initial daily rail service in 2001 and now provide daily and overnight transit between the golden triangle in the UK Midlands and the central belt of Scotland


THE Malcolm Group has continually pushed the boundaries in exploring innovative multi modal opportunities. 

The introduction of our 50’ container demonstrates this. 

The 50’ container accommodates four more pallets of goods than the standard 45’ container. 
For goods which often ‘cube out before weighing out’ the 50’ container allows more to be transported with less carbon – with an average of 13% CO2e reduction per pallet moved. 

In addition to the 50’ container, The Malcolm Group also pioneered the development of the first Longer Semi-Trailer (LST) in 2014 alongside SDC trailers. 

Again, the LST offers our customers more goods to be moved on a single journey – reducing HGV movements, congestion, and carbon. 


THROUGH our expertise in civil engineering, waste services and recycled aggregate supplies, we offer our clients a unique package with resource efficiency front and centre. 

Across our contracted projects, we recognise the value in materials generated during excavation activities. 

Using our state-of-the-art recycling facilities and wash plants we can process such materials and produce recycled aggregates for reuse across the construction industry. 

The Herald: Soil Processing and Recycled Aggregate Production Plant installation has the capability of diverting 500,000 tonnes per annum from landfill, when running at full capacity

Our operations have always supported sustainable practices within the construction industry, through offering waste recycling and recycled aggregate supplies. 

With more emphasis on developers, contractors, and the wider value chain to quantify sustainable benefits we have taken steps to quantify the carbon impacts of our operations and products we provide. 

For example, we recently commissioned a detailed ‘Aggregate Emissions Footprint’ calculation to understand the carbon impacts of our products providing validity to our customers. 

Changing industry standards and practices requires us to have a dynamic internal training programme. 

This consists of internal engagement on sustainability, established working groups and external training courses. 

We also aim to use our industry knowledge and connections, to work collaboratively with our clients, peers and supply chain members to ensure we promote added benefit for all stakeholders.

The Herald: As market leaders in waste management, The Malcolm Group re-uses and recycles construction and demolition waste in a safe and cost effective manner at locations such as their South Street premise

We have long advocated for an industry shift from the typical linear economy of ‘take-make-waste’ to a circular economy of ‘reduce – reuse – recycle – recover’. 

Continual investment in our recycling plants, including our new aggregate wash plant at our Loanhead Quarry opened in 2022, is testament to this.