LONDON (ICIS)--INEOS aims to complete two hand sanitizer plants in the UK and Germany in 10 days to produce 1m bottles per month each to address a critical shortage across Europe, the chemicals major said on Tuesday.
A spokesperson told ICIS that the company had been preparing the move for some time, making it confident it could achieve the 10-day timeframe.
INEOS plans to supply the hand sanitizers to hospitals, schools, places of work, pharmacies and supermarkets. Product would be free for hospitals.
In the UK, the spokesperson said Grangemouth would increase its ethanol capacity in order to cater for the new product lines.
INEOS produces the two raw materials for hand sanitizers - isopropanol (IPA) and ethanol - in Grangemouth and Germany's Moers and Herne sites.
The company has IPA production capacities of 155,000 tonnes/year at Moers and of 85,000 tonnes/year in Herne.
For ethanol, INEOS' production capacities are located in Grangemouth with two lines producing 330,000 tonnes/year.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that hand to mouth infection is a significant cause of coronavirus contagion and INEOS is Europe’s largest manufacturer of the core ingredient of hand sanitiser," said Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS' chairman, in a statement on Tuesday.
The spokesperson declined to comment on INEOS' current operations in Europe, where most countries have imposed restrictions to people's movements in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.
On the economic downturn the restrictions are causing in Europe, the spokesperson said it could not comment or speculate, stating that INEOS was now focused on the wellbeing of its employees and in contributing towards the battle against the pandemic.
Supply of both ethanol and IPA has been extremely tight in Europe in past weeks as demand for hand sanitizers spiked globally.
Additional reporting by Jonathan Lopez and Clare Pennington