Bottling equipment maker Sidel has temporarily converted its packaging development lab in Octeville-sur-Mer, France, into a production center for hand sanitizer containers, the company has announced.
Normally, the packaging innovation center serves to assist customers with the development and testing of PET packaging design options. It is not an industrial production site.
Confronted with a massive shortage of hand sanitizer, the French government issued a general plea for assistance, and industrial companies and hospitals have responded to the call. Soon, however, the next challenge arose: the gel is being produced in large mass containers, making it difficult to distribute among the healthcare workers for whom it was being produced.
In mid-March, Sidel received a request from the Hospital of Dijon hospital for small containers for packaging the sanitizing gel. In two days, Sidel successfully transformed its lab into a mini production hub for PET bottles. The company identified the correct material grade needed and found the necessary partners.
Using an existing 500 milliliter mold, with the preforms provided by a key beverage player and the sports caps supplied by a caps manufacturer, Sidel was able to deliver the first 5,000 bottles to the Dijon hospital. The sports closure allows for the controlled dispensing of the gel, keeping it safe from contamination.
This initial batch was soon followed by more.
The company also responded to a request from Normandy to supply local healthcare workers and pharmacies with small bottles and designed a 200 milliliter bottle that is more "user friendly" for individual use, Vincent Le Guen, vice Ppesident packaging at Sidel, said.
As of April 1, more than 1,000 bottles had been delivered to the local pharmacies, "all 100 percent recyclable and potentially refillable after sterilization," Vincent said.
“This initiative is a gesture of solidarity for our health carers. It will help us make a difference in overcoming the supply shortages that have arisen due to the current situation,” he added.
Sidel is appealing to the generosity of any business partner able to in provide additional preforms and caps in order to be able to continue production.
"Moreover, we are also prepared to support other companies who would require molds to produce bottles on their packaging lines, wishing to take over extra responsibility in the common fight against the virus,” Vincent said.