Finding store shelves emptied of essential products has been an alarming and frustrating experience for consumers, including myself, in the United States and numerous other countries. When shoppers find bare store shelves instead of those typically packed with hand sanitizers, an inconvenience becomes a matter of personal safety in protecting oneself and loved ones from the coronavirus.
The shortage prompted the FDA to weigh in on the topic on March 20.
“We are aware of significant supply disruptions for alcohol-based hand sanitizers,” said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “Many manufacturers make hand sanitizers, and several have indicated that they are working to increase supply. We will continue to work with manufacturers, compounders, state boards of pharmacy and the public to increase the supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer available to Americans.”
However, that lack of availability for consumers repeats a similar critical need for hospitals and pharmacies.
Plastic makers to the rescue.
Two plastics companies that manufacture polymers, Dow Europe and Ineos, have stepped up with a solution: Taking the key ingredients the polymer producers already have available and redirect their use to make sanitizers and help address the shortfall.
Ineos is the leading European producer of the two key raw materials needed for sanitizers, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and ethanol. It announced March 24 it would build a hand sanitizer plant near Middlesbrough to produce one million bottles of sanitizer monthly within 10 days. The company stated that these will be produced according to World Health Organisation specifications and be specifically designed to kill bacteria and viruses.
It can produce hospital-grade hand sanitizer at its sites in Grangemouth, Scotland, and in northern Germany, making almost one million tonnes/1.1 million tons yearly.
Due to the critical shortage of hand sanitizers across Europe, Ineos expects to concentrate on meeting the needs of front-line medical and care services as well as making the “pocket bottle” hand sanitizers for personal use for people across the UK and Europe. It will supply free products to hospitals.
A visit to the www.ineoshandgel.com had this notice posted: “Members of the public are requested not to contact us. This form is for medical and wholesale only. You will soon find stocks available in stores.”
Lead image: Goffkein/Adobe Stock
Next: Dow mobilizes into hand sanitizer production.