Australian industry ramps up hand sanitiser production

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The Aquim factory in Melbourne. Credit: Twitter/Karen Andrews

The Federal Government is working closely with Australian industry in an effort to further increase the manufacture of hand sanitiser amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said manufacturers had already significantly ramped up 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,” Minister 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.

“We also need the community to play their part by not stockpiling. There is no need for people to have huge volumes of hand sanitiser at home.”

Ego Pharmaceuticals, which makes Aqium sanitiser, has drastically increased its output and is now working towards further increasing production at its factory in Melbourne.

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

“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.”

Minister Andrews, who will host a roundtable via teleconference this week to further identify opportunities to increase supply, said the Government had also worked with manufacturers to ensure a steady supply of ethanol – a key ingredient in the production of hand sanitisers.

“Our large ethanol producers have indicated they have capacity to make more pharmaceutical grade ethanol as needed,” the Minister said.

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

Manildra Group, Australia’s leading producer of ethanol, is also ramping up production in an effort to meet growing demand for its products.

“As a family-owned Australian business we continue to locally produce ethanol, and we’re committed to operating our manufacturing facilities around the clock to meet demand,” said Managing Director John Honan.

Image credit: twitter.com/KarenAndrwewsMP