MAKING THE PRODUCTS THAT SOCIETY NEEDS
At INEOS our business is to make the products that society needs. So when the coronavirus pandemic led to a global shortage of sanitising products, we set about manufacturing and distributing the large volumes needed to meet the shortfall, firstly to health authorities, and then more broadly to all.
In just three months we installed 6 new plants in the UK, Germany, France and the USA and are now producing 1 Million bottles of hand sanitiser every month.
Alcohol based disinfectant has long been recognised by the scientific and medical communities as the simplest and most effective way of destroying both viruses and bacteria when soap and water is not readily available (ref 1). The viruses and bacteria do not build up resistance (ref 2), meaning that no matter how often you use it, the cleansing effect will be just as good. Even where soap and water is available, alcohol provides an additional deep clean of viruses and bacteria that is quick and convenient. Its use is standard procedure in health care environments and hospitals. And although the virus associated with Covid-19 is new, a study by Swiss and German scientists has already confirmed alcohol’s effectiveness at killing it (ref 3).
At the core of our sanitiser is our own high purity ethanol , which is manufactured under strictly controlled conditions to meet the specialist requirements of pharmaceutical, medical and other applications. Our product is free of impurities seen in many agricultural sources of ethanol and of concern to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) (ref 4). Because of its high purity, it is already being used as a pharmaceutical grade reagent to purify RNA and DNA in the UK’s COVID-19 testing programme.
In contrast with many suppliers, we formulate our sanitiser hand gel with 75% alcohol, as advised by The World Health Organisation (ref 5), the US FDA, and health services in Europe. This ensures that it is effective in eliminating 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. It also ensures that, after use, it evaporates quickly, and leaves hands feeling clean and dry.
In responding to extraordinary circumstances, our first instinct was to supply the UK’s National Health Services and other European health services free of charge to see them through the peak. From project go-ahead to first deliveries took just 10 days. Now, with production ramped up and the initial peak of demand met, our sanitiser is available through a wide range of retailers. But we are not stopping there. Our bottles of hand gel will soon be followed by wipes and larger scale solutions for the workplace and homes.
As the world’s largest manufacturer of high purity synthetic ethanol, steeped in safety and operational excellence in a highly regulated environment, we are uniquely placed to assure our customers of continuity of supply and the highest levels of product quality. And, as a quickly evolving Hygiene business, we will be able to meet the demands of both consumers and businesses as we all adapt to the new demands for hygiene against corona and other viruses.
 Alcohols de-activate bacteria and viruses by denaturing the proteins and disrupting the lipid or fatty layers on which their structure and activity relies (ref 6). It is important that the alcohol sanitiser contains a high concentration of alcohol as recommended by WHO to ensure effectiveness. Sanitisers with too low a concentration of alcohol (eg less than 60%) or too high a concentration (eg 90% or more) are less effective.
 In isopropanol is substituted for ethanol but provides the same level of purity and sanitising performance. INEOS is also a major manufacturer of isopropanol.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings: Recommendations of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee and the HICPAC/SHEA/APIC/IDSA Hand Hygiene Task Force. MMWR 2002;51(No. RR16):[1-56].
- Kampf and Kramer, Clin Microbiol Rev. 2004 Oct; 17(4): 863–893.
- Kratzel A, Todt D, V’kovski P, Steiner S, Gultrom M, Thao TTN, et al. Inactivation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 by WHO-recommended hand rub formulations and alcohols. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020;26(7):1592-1595. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.200915
- WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care, 2009.