DuPont businesses band together to produce hand sanitizer

Published: 8 May 2020 - 2 a.m.
By: Martin Menachery
Unrivalled demand from hospitals, supermarkets and others facing heavy supply issues triggered DuPont’s nutrition and biosciences business to switch gears and begin producing disinfecting hand sanitizer. It began when the team in Bomlitz, Germany, determined they could use their flexible pilot plant to​​ quickly produce the initial batches, using recipes provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) and working closely with the corporate science and innovation teams in Geneva and Wilmington, Delaware. They quickly scaled up and began delivering the sanitizer to local hospitals and others in the community, with help from their colleagues in the transportation and industrial business, who provided the five-litre containers to deliver the much-needed supplies.

“DuPont is a company that first and foremost does the right thing. It is what underpins our values. In a crisis like this, that is what matters most, ” Johan Jansen-Storbacka, personal care business segment leader, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, said. “This has been a great example of how we are able to work across businesses and functions to achieve something new in a truly short time. It reflects the true spirit that makes DuPont.”

Today, the site has produced more than 26 metric tonnes of hand sanitizer and shipped more than 12 metric tonnes to sites and local communities in Germany and Switzerland. They are also looking at options to ship to additional European countries.

“This has been a great example of how we are able to work across businesses and functions to achieve something new in a truly short time. It reflects the true spirit that makes DuPont,” said Johan Jansen-Storbacka, personal care business segment leader, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences.

In the US, teams have distributed hand sanitizer to several of DuPont's plants and local communities across Wilmington, Michigan, and Fort Madison, Iowa. In Remington, Indiana, workers are producing four metric tonnes for local needs, and Kingston, Canada, will soon join the effort and produce disinfectant for their local community.

“It was amazing to see how quickly our employees responded to a request for USP grade water and figured out how to pull it off, creating a partnership between DuPont and another local company to produce hand sanitizer for the State of Michigan,” DuPont Transportation & Industrial's Jessica Snyder, Hemlock HIMS site leader said.

At DuPont’s Fort Madison site in Iowa, electronics and imaging plant manager John Hellige is leading the charge. Much like the Bomlitz site, Fort Madison utilised a recipe provided by the World Health Organization to develop a process for the production of hand sanitizer to support area hospitals, small businesses and community organisations. Thus far, more than 150 gallons have been produced and delivered in the community.

“I am so proud of our DuPont Fort Madison colleagues who have stepped up to answer the call by converting some of our manufacturing lines to produce and distribute hand sanitizer as a way to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus,” Hellige said. “We are all in this together, and the Fort Madison site is proud and humbled to assist in delivering essential materials to those who are most in need," said John Hellige, plant manager, DuPont Electronics & Imaging.

To date, DuPont has donated approximately 1,500 gallons to local nonprofit organisations and government agencies, including hospitals and local emergency management services. They have also provided hand sanitizer to roughly 180 businesses and individuals from the local area and 100 employees and contractors.

And they are not done yet, according to Hellige, who indicated they plan to make another 30 batches of sanitizer over the next few weeks to help many other DuPont sites across North America and the communities they serve.

“Businesses were overjoyed and we are still following up with others. This has been my most rewarding DuPont work experience… everyone is really proud and humbled by what we have been able to accomplish,” added Hellige.

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