How Clean Earth figured out a way to recycle all that hand sanitizer

Apr 08, 2021

With a world awash in hand sanitizer following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harsco Corp. stepped up to provide a solution for recycling expired, recalled or off-spec product.

The Camp Hill, Pennsylvania-based company noted that its Clean Earth division developed a customized solution for the proper disposal and recycling of hand sanitizer last year. This process resulted in the salvaging of 1.1 million pounds of non-viable product in 2020 and has, in turn, helped certain Clean Earth customers maintain Small Quantity Generator status, the company notes.

 As large volumes of hand sanitizers were produced and purchased in 2020 to combat COVID-19, companies across the nation are now experiencing an unexpected need for large quantity material disposal of these off-spec, recalled and expired hand sanitizing products. Clean Earth’s recycling solution includes a fuel blending process to recover the alcohol from the hand sanitizer, transforming the waste to a gas fuel additive product and giving these non-viable hand sanitizers a second life as a new usable energy source.

 “At Clean Earth, it’s part of our mission to provide all customers with customized waste solutions that increase their own sustainability efforts,” says David Stanton, senior vice president and group president of Clean Earth. “Our team’s exceptional expertise and customer know-how regarding non-viable hand sanitizer resulted in sustainable waste management, cost savings and risk avoidance as some unusable products are stored in warehouses, creating potential hazards. Through this recycling solution, we are offering a safe and strategic option for our customers.”

For a large national retail customer that required emergency cleanout, Clean Earth says it was able to service approximately 50 locations within one week. This resulted in recycling of 800,000 pounds of hand sanitizer and assisted the customer in compliantly maintaining their Small Quantity Generator status.

More information on Clean Earth’s sanitizer recycling efforts can be found online.