GreenField fires up production to cover Covid demand

GreenField Global's Johnstown plant. Van Dusen photo, Nation Valley News

Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News

JOHNSTOWN — Construction will begin shortly on a $75 million expansion to GreenField Global’s ethanol plant here, primarily to capitalize on the growing demand for high-grade corn-based alcohol for Covid-resisting sanitizers and disinfectants.

Following an anticipated 12-month turnaround time, GreenField will add 100 million litres a year of U.S. Pharmacopeia Grade (USP) alcohol to its product line. Current output is 250 million litres a year, including some high-purity alcohol of which the plant ramped up manufacturing in April after Covid came crashing onto the scene.

Calling expansion in Johnstown an “exciting milestone,” GreenField president and CEO Howard Field said it’ll permit his company to respond to increasing demand from the pharmaceutical sector in Canada while supplying its new packaging plant in Ireland.

“The global pandemic has created an unprecedented demand for both USP-Grade alcohol-based hand sanitizers and surface disinfectants used to reduce the spread of infectious disease,” Field observed, adding that rapid growth has warranted significant expansion.

The project will add new jobs at many levels, starting with construction. Installation of the new high-purity distillation system will be accompanied by investments in product storage, segregation tanks, a new lab, additional rail capacity, and other enhancements related to securing food and pharmaceutical grade certifications.

Jobs will be created in administration and operations, with new ancillary jobs in Johnstown, Prescott and as far west as Brockville. The regional market for corn which feeds GreenField’s production system will be boosted but at the moment it’s unclear by how much. The work will also allow for more efficient logistics for many GreenField customers in North America and Europe.

The project has been backed by a $2.5 million grant under the Ontario Together Fund with area MPP and cabinet minister Steve Clark underlining companies such as GreenField are needed during the pandemic to bring their expertise to bear on the challenges faced and help ensure the province’s emergency preparedness.

Also present at a recent announcement, area MP Michael Barret emphasized the need to lessen Canada’s reliance on foreign essential products disrupted in 2020 as export countries put their own needs first, and create a more robust domestic supply chain.

Pat Sayeau, Mayor of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal in which GreenField is located, congratulated Ontario for leading the way in harnessing local industries, making sure that Canada will never again be at the mercy of international markets for critical supplies.

GreenField is the largest ethanol producer in Canada with four distilleries, four specialty chemical manufacturing and packaging plants, and three biofuel and renewable energy Research & Development centres.

Under its Pharmco and Commercial Alcohol brands, GreenField delivers hundreds of products to thousands of Life Science, food, flavour, fragrance and beverage companies in more than 50 countries.

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