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Sekab switches production to produce ethanol-based hand sanitiser

In Sweden, chemical and cleantech company Sekab is switching production to produce hand sanitiser for the healthcare system following a temporary exemption from the Swedish Chemicals Agency. Within one to two weeks, Sekab expects to have produced 65 000 litres of ethanol-based hand sanitiser in Örnsköldsvik.

Household hand sanitiser gels. In Sweden, Sekab is switching production to produce ethanol-derived hand sanitisers for the healthcare system following a temporary exemption from the Swedish Chemicals Agency. Within one to two weeks, Sekab expects to have produced 65 000 litres of ethanol-based hand sanitiser in Örnsköldsvik.

On account of COVID-19, the demand for hand sanitiser and disinfectant is high in healthcare, and Sekab has already received requests from medical professionals, municipalities and regions to buy hand sanitiser. However, in order for companies to manufacture and sell hand sanitisers and disinfectants, they must be registered with the European Chemicals Agency, ECHA.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency announced on March 20, 2020, that it will ease the rules and will not check if companies are on ECHA’s list. Therefore, Sekab has decided to immediately switch to the production of hand sanitiser.

The spread of the coronavirus must be delayed and the elderly protected from infection. Here in Örnsköldsvik, we have a centuries-old tradition of refining ethanol, and of course we want to help produce hand-spirit for the health care in this emergency location. Now, thanks to rapid action from the relevant authorities, we have been given a clear sign to produce both hand spirit and disinfectant, said Tomas Nilsson, CEO of Sekab.

Within one to two weeks, Sekab expects to have produced around 65 000 litres. Made of ethanol from Domsjö Fabriker biorefinery in Örnsköldsvik, the production uses renewable energy. The hand sanitiser will be distributed according to the recommendation of the National Board of Health and Welfare to the businesses with the greatest need.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency has decided to grant exemptions from Articles 17 and 19 of the EU Biocidal Products Regulation to disinfectants containing the alcohols 1-proponol or 2-propanol. This means that products intended for surface or hand disinfection containing these substances no longer need to be approved by the Swedish Chemicals Agency before they can be sold on the Swedish market. The exemption applies immediately and until September 16, 2020.

The Swedish Chemicals Agency also from now on accepts the manufacture and sale of disinfectants without the suppliers being included in the so-called Article 95 list of the EU Biocidal Products Regulation. This position means that the authority will not check if disinfectant suppliers are on the list. This is valid until June 30, 2020.

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