Sunday 29th Mar, 2020

Ethanol producers ramp up manufacturing to keep up with hand sanitiser demand

Australian ethanol producers have ramped up production to assist the Federal Government secure supplies for hand sanitiser manufacturing.

It comes as part of the Federal Government’s push to ensure local manufacturing can keep up with the increased demand amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said manufacturers had already significantly increased their output and more was being done to grow that even further.

“I want to stress to Australians that we have the capacity and the raw ingredients here to continue to meet the increased demand,” Andrews said.

“Industry, with the help of government, is stepping up to meet the challenges being thrown at us by this virus.

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“Our Government will continue to do what it takes to ensure supply and increase domestic production of medical protection equipment – from sanitiser to masks to ventilators.”

Ego Pharmaceuticals manufactures hand sanitiser Aqium at its factory in Melbourne. The company’s managing director said the company has drastically increased how much is being made.

“In February we made five times what we forecast and our factory is now running 24 hours a day, five days a week,” Oppenheim said.

“We’re currently hiring to increase that to six days a week and we’ve stopped our little bit of exporting to prioritise Australian needs.”

The Federal Government has also approached ethanol manufacturers to secure the supply of raw materials.

Andrews said Australia’s producers have indicated they have capacity to make more pharmaceutical grade ethanol as needed.

“We have been helping to connect these producers with our hand sanitiser manufacturers, and manufacturers are already placing new and increased orders,” she said.

Diageo, manufacturer of Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Bundaberg Rum, has pledged to enable the creation of more than eight million bottles of hand sanitiser by donating up to two million litres of alcohol to manufacturing partners.

It will provide grain neutral spirit at no cost around the world, with 100,000 litres of ethanol to be produced for the Queensland Government.

“Healthcare workers are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic and we are determined to do what we can to help protect them,” Diageo Chief Executive Ivan Menezes said.

“This is the quickest and most effective way for us to meet the surging demand for hand sanitiser around the world.”

In addition, one of Australia’s largest ethanol producers, Manildra Group, will also continue to produce ethanol around the clock.