JOHNSTOWN – For the next month, and possibly longer, the alcohol manufactured at the Greenfield Global plant in Johnston will be used to supply companies making hand sanitizer.
Up until the approval by Health Canada to switch, the facility produced Ethanol for the petroleum industry. Instead the plant will now supply up to 710,000 litres per day of Technical Grade Alcohol, which has fewer impurities than Ethanol used as fuel.
Over the past year, there has been a 700 per cent increase in demand for hand sanitizer and there is not enough distillation capacity to meet demand domestically.
Greenfield Global applied for the technical change with Health Canada to allow for the use of its production in March after the call went out from the province for Ontario-based business help in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company received approval to use all of the plant production April 6th to May 1st. Plant officials said that with the provincial emergency measures extended, they anticipate the company will receive extensions beyond May 1st.
“I want to personally thank Greenfield Global for their passionate commitment to meet the incredible national demand for the alcohol that goes into hand sanitizer. It is urgently required by our health-care heroes and everyone on the front-lines in the battle against the virus,” said Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark.
“[This] is yet another indication of the close working relationship between the Ontario and federal governments as they work to combat the national threat of COVID-19,” said Greenfield CEO and President Howard Field.
The Johnston-based plant is supplied corn from farms in the region including South Dundas.
While the Grain Farmers of Ontario could not provide county-based statistics on how much Dundas County-grown corn was used in Ethanol production, spokesperson Victoria Berry said that Ontario farms grow nearly three million tonnes of corn for the petroleum industry.
That accounts for one-third of all corn grown in the province.
The company has had to outfit its shipping facilities to deal with new handling procedures, trucking logistics, and upgraded lab testing.
The facility has 52 employees in Johnstown.
Greenfield already operates two plants in Ontario that take Ontario-grown corn and produce alcohol for hand sanitizer, one in Tiverton, the other in Chatham.
The Johnstown plant is the first fuel production plant that has received approval in Canada to convert its production.
Another Greenfield plant in Varennes, Quebec is currently undergoing the same approval process.