Coronavirus Prompts Ineos to Build Additional Hand Sanitizer Plants in the U.K. and Germany
Stepping up to help during this coronavirus pandemic, U.K.’s Ineos (which includes Ineos Styrolution, U.S. office in Aurora, Ill., and Houston-based Ineos Olefins & Polymers), is building a factory at its Grangemouth, Scotland site, and plans to produce one million bottles of hand sanitizer within 10 days. Moreover, the company is replicating this action at its site in northern Germany.
Ineos is the leading European producer of the two key raw materials – isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and ethanol, needed for hand sanitizer. The company is already running these plants flat and has been diverting most of this product to essential medical use. The hand sanitizer is produced according to World Health Organization (WHO) specifications and is specifically designed to kill bacteria and viruses.
At the new plants, Ineos intends to produce both standard and the increasingly popular “pocket bottle” hand sanitizers (typically injection molded PET) and is already talking to retail outlets across Europe. Supplies to NHS hospitals will be free of charge for the period of the crisis with the public being able to purchase bottles through retailers.
Says Ineos founder and CEO Jim Ratcliffe, “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’s products are essential to healthcare products, ranging from rubber gloves, to PVC saline drips, syringes, ventilators, medical tubing. Its products purify the public drinking water. It produces raw materials for soap, acetone for aspirin and paracetamol, and its phenol is being used in pharmaceutical analysis essential in procedures necessary to find a vaccine.
To properly understand the differences in performance between PET and PBT we need to compare apples to apples—the semi-crystalline forms of each polymer.
Plastics are going “green,” but they will need some help to get there. Biodegradable polymers derived from renewable resources are attracting lots of interest and publicity, but that enthusiasm is counterbalanced by persistent questions of availability, cost, performance, and processability. All these issues are inter-related: Increasing demand will lead to more capacity, which will presumably lead to lower prices. But the foundation is market demand, which ultimately depends on whether biopolymers will have the performance properties and processability to compete with existing non-renewable plastics.
Plastics weigh in with added design freedom and environmental friendliness—especially when the alternative is lead.