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The UK’s third richest man Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of chemicals giant INEOS, has announced plans to build a hand sanitiser plant in the UK in 10 days.
The new plant will produce one million bottles a month of the much-needed product to help combat the spread of coronavirus, according to the company.
The sanitiser, which is in short supply across Europe, will be given to hospitals free of charge.
They product will be made according to World Health Organisation (WHO) specifications and be specifically designed to kill bacteria and viruses, INEOS said.
The company also intends to make “pocket bottle” hand sanitisers for personal use for people across the UK and Europe, and is already in talks with retail outlets across Europe.
INEOS said it will supply hospitals, schools, workplaces, pharmacies, and supermarkets.
INEOS is Europe’s largest producer of the two key raw material needed for hospital grade hand sanitiser at its sites in Grangemouth, Scotland and in northern Germany so is uniquely placed to branch out into major production of hand sanitiser.
The new plant will be located near Middlesbrough and a second factory is planned in Germany.
One of the main ways that the coronavirus is spread is hand to mouth. The first piece of advice given by the WHO to prevent this is regularly using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser or washing your hands with soap and water.
The move comes amid a global shortage of hand sanitiser, caused by stockpiling and increased usage. Sales in the UK surged 225% in February, before Covid-19 had even hit Britain in earnest.
A World Health Organisation spokesperson said on Tuesday 85% of coronavirus cases reported over the past 24 hours have been in Europe and the United States.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that hand to mouth infection is a significant cause of Corona virus contagion and INEOS is Europe’s largest manufacturer of the core ingredient of hand sanitiser. We will build two factories in the UK and Germany in 10 days to produce very substantial supplies,” said 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.”
LVMH (MC.PA), the French luxury giant that owns brands like Louis Vuitton, said recently it would switch production at all of its cosmetics and perfume factories to start producing hand sanitiser instead. The product will be supplied to French authorities battling to control the outbreak.
A small Buckinghamshire distillery that usually makes gin and vodka out of honey has also begun making hand sanitiser amid the global shortage — highlighting how businesses both great and small are throwing their weight behind efforts to fight Covid-19.
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