Brussels, 3 September 2020 – iEthanol (the European association of ethanol producers) has written to the European Commission with a proposal designed to improve the quality of ethanol in hand sanitisers and disinfectants.

The key problem is that the current EU customs nomenclature only differentiates between undenatured and denatured ethanol but not between different qualities of ethanol. That has led to confusion in the EU about which quality of ethanol is available for which use. As a result, several EU member states have allowed the temporary use of low quality biofuel ethanol for their manufacturing processes.

The quality of ethanol in hand and surface disinfectants in some cases has been so poor that hand sanitiser producers or hospitals have had to refuse the use of disinfectants and ultimately send disinfectants back to the suppliers due to the acrid smell of the ethanol.

iEthanol’s proposal is for the EU to amend its customs nomenclature to cover four grades of ethanol. This would allow EU member states to monitor the quality of ethanol used more precisely and therefore ensure that the right quality of ethanol is used in hand sanitisers and disinfectants.

Such a new customs nomenclature would be similar to that used by US customs and would therefore facilitate future trade talks with the US and other trade partners.