Ineos races to build new UK hand sanitiser plant in just 10 days

Image credit: reuters

UK chemicals giant Ineos is building a factory in the North of England dedicated to making hand sanitiser, with the aim of having the facility ready within 10 days. A second hand sanitiser factory is planned for similarly rapid construction in Germany.

Ineos aims to produce one million bottles of hand sanitiser per month, assisting the all-consuming effort to mitigate the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. The familiar routines of life and work have largely ground to a halt in the UK, with all but essential work being paused or performed remotely and citizens ordered to remain indoors to minimise the transmission of the virus.

Many companies involved in non-essential manufacturing (including aerospace engineering companies, fashion brands and automakers) have offered to transform their unused factory space into production lines for desperately-needed medical supplies like ventilators, personal cleaning products and masks.

Ineos is in a unique position to contribute to this national effort: it already manufactures healthcare products such as saline drops, ventilators and syringes and is Europe’s largest producer of the two main raw materials that make hospital-grade hand sanitiser (isopropyl alcohol and ethanol). The company plans to produce one million standard (250ml) and pocket (50ml) hand sanitisers every month, which it will distribute to hospitals, schools, essential workplaces, supermarkets and pharmacies.

Ineos also confirmed that hospitals will be issued with hand sanitisers for free.

“Ineos is a company with enormous resources and manufacturing skills,” said Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the billionaire founder and chair of Ineos. “If we can find other ways to help in the coronavirus battle, we are absolutely committed to playing our part.”

The millions of bottles of hand sanitiser will be produced at a dedicated plant at Newton Aycliffe, near Middlesbrough, which Ineos hopes to complete within 10 days. The company has been planning the factory for approximately a week and has already received fast-tracked regulatory approval. It has stepped up alcohol production in preparation for the facility's opening.

A similar factory will be built in Germany to help plug hand sanitiser supply shortages on the continent. Ineos said that it is already in discussion with other retail outlets across Europe.

Luxury fashion conglomerate LVMH and brewer Brewdog are among the other companies which have responded to the pandemic by focusing production on hand sanitisers, rather than their typical output.

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