Times of crisis are trying times for all of us. That’s why we are particularly pleased to see how Swedish government agencies, companies and citizens are working together to find solutions to the corona outbreak as we are facing this immense challenge.
As media reports of shortages of hand sanitizer started coming in, we were also made aware of this at Sekab by phone calls from physicians, municipalities and regions who were wondering if we had any hand sanitizer for sale.
It was a valid question. In Örnsköldsvik, we have been refining ethanol for a hundred years. Our main obstacle was present regulations. Companies are required to be registered with the European Chemical Agency, Echa, to manufacture and sell hand sanitizer and disinfectants. Sekab has no history of producing these kinds of products, so you would not find us on Echa’s list, which also meant that we were prohibited from redirecting our production to make hand sanitizer, even during a massive shortage.
This crisis has, however, seen everyone from nurses and physicians, to state epidemiologist, government agencies and leading politicians acting exemplary. As did the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
This past Friday, the Swedish Chemicals Agency announced that they would be relaxing the existing regulatory framework to allow for Sekab and other companies to produce and sell hand sanitizer to make up for shortages within Swedish health care.
As soon as we were able, we began production, which meant that we were fully operational that very same Friday. Within one to two weeks we are expecting production output to be at 65 000 litres of hand sanitizer for use in hospitals and clinics. It was no small change, indeed, for a lot of our employees, but there was never a question whether we would help in whichever way we could.
Hardship brings people together. When this coronacrisis is over, Sekab will be ready to once again continue fighting the climate crisis.