Demand for hand sanitizer sparks $75M expansion of Johnstown plant

Greenfield plant

Canada’s largest producer of fuel ethanol is launching a major expansion of its production plant in eastern Ontario to meet surging demand for alcohol used in hand sanitizers, disinfectants and other products that have become standard equipment in the fight against COVID-19.

Greenfield Global announced late last week it was set to start construction on a $75-million addition to its facility in Johnstown, about 90 kilometres south of Ottawa. The extra space will allow the plant to produce an additional 100 million litres a year of medical-grade alcohols and solvents.

The company began boosting production of high-purity alcohol in the spring as demand skyrocketed at the outset of the pandemic. Greenfield Global said the “unprecedented surge” in sales of the products prompted it to invest in extra capacity at the Johnstown plant, which currently churns out about 250 million litres of ethanol annually.

“Expansion of our Johnstown facility is an exciting milestone for Greenfield, a considerable step forward in our domestic supply capacity, and will greatly enhance our capabilities to serve our customers, including life science and pharmaceutical companies that are experiencing unprecedented demand for their products,” president and CEO Howard Field said in a statement. 

The firm said it expects to break ground on the expansion later this month, with completion targeted for late next year. The provincial government chipped in $2 million for the project through its Ontario Together Fund, a $50-million program aimed at helping manufacturers pivot to producing personal protective equipment during the pandemic.