March 24, 2020 @ 15:12 by Richard Dawson
Chemical company Ineos has announced plans to build a new hand sanitiser plant in Middlesbrough to help the UK fight coronavirus, and it could be operational in as little as ten days.
Once complete, the new plant will be capable of producing one million bottles of hand sanitiser a month, with Ineos sourcing the raw materials for the product — isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and ethanol — from its other factories in Scotland and Germany.
Ineos — which has an existing base at Seal Sands in Teesside — already produces a variety of healthcare products, including ventilators, medical tubing and rubber gloves.
The new factory will supply hospitals across the UK and Europe with hand sanitiser products free of charge, as part of the firm’s commitment to use their resources to “help in the coronavirus battle”.
As well as making hand sanitiser for front line medical services, the company will also produce miniature travel sized bottles for individual consumer use, which will hopefully go some way to bridging the current shortage of sanitiser products in UK shops.
In a statement, Ineos said it was Europe’s largest producer of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and ethanol, the two key components for medical-grade sanitiser, which the firm claims puts them in a unique position to help with the shortage.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of Ineos, said: “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.
“Ineos is a company with enormous resources and manufacturing skills. If we can find other ways to help in the coronavirus battle, we are absolutely committed to playing our part.”
The company also plans to build a plant in Germany to help with the shortage of hand sanitiser across Europe.
No details have been released on whether the new plant will lead to the creation of new jobs.