Tuesday 24 March 2020 12:24 pm

Coronavirus: Chemicals giant Ineos to build hand sanitiser factory in 10 days

Chemicals giant Ineos will build a hand sanitiser factory in 10 days that will produce 1m bottles a month as more UK firms join efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Ineos, which is owned by the UK’s third richest man Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is already Europe’s largest producer of the two chemicals needed to make hand sanitiser, already producing 1m tonnes of isopropyl and ethanol a month.

Read more: Boris Johnson calls on UK businesses to make ventilators amid Covid-19 crisis

The firm intends to produce both standard and the increasingly popular pocket bottle hand sanitisers 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.

It will also replicate the process in Germany, where it has a chemical production site already.

Ratcliffe, Ineos’ founder, said: “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”.

Sign up to City A.M.’s Midday Update newsletter, delivered to your inbox every lunchtime

Companies big and small have joined in with efforts to manufacture critical health supplies for the duration of the crisis.

Last week French luxury goods brand LVMH said it would use its cosmetic and perfume chemicals to make the disinfectant gels for France’s hospitals.

Closer to home, brewer Brewdog is using its facility in Aberdeen to make the product.

Read more: CMA warns firms against coronavirus rip-offs as face mask and hand sanitiser prices soar

Global spirit maker Diageo, which makes drinks such as Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, has also donated 2m litres of alcohol to manufacturing partners.

The UK government has called on firms to contribute to a national effort to combat the spread of the virus, with large engineering firms in particular prompted to assist with the manufacture of ventilators for critically ill patients.