Alumni & Supporters

News items

Tom Crotty supplies hand sanitiser for the fight against COVID-19

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak, Tom tells us about his career journey and how INEOS is supporting public health organisations as they work to combat the virus.

Tom Crotty graduated from Newcastle University in 1979 with a degree in Agriculture, and has since gone on to become Group Corporate Affairs Director of leading chemical company INEOS.

“I loved everything about life at Newcastle, the campus, its proximity to the city, the fact that the Union was always busy and the friends that I made who remain friends today after over 40 years. It was vibrant and much of the life centred in the north of the city close to the University. The quayside hadn’t been developed then so life centred around Eldon Square.

“I joined ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) straight from University, working in their agricultural division. I then worked in IC Plastics and then General Chemicals before the business I was running was bought by INEOS in 2001. I ran a large number of INEOS businesses before taking on my current role as Group Corporate Affairs Director.”

On 24 March, INEOS announced their plans to build a new plant with the capability to produce one million bottles of hand sanitiser within ten days. Tom gave some background on this initiative, and how INEOS are meeting the challenges of the current situation:

“We wanted to respond to the current crisis in any way that we could and engaged with the Government on a number of initiatives, but it became apparent that the shortage of hand sanitiser was a major problem both for the NHS and the general public. We already produce the basic pure ethanol that forms the base of the product and so we were committed to putting all our efforts into producing a finished product at high quantity very quickly. We have built mixing and packaging lines at our Newton Aycliffe plant within a week and will be sending our first supplies to the NHS within the 10-day window that we set ourselves.”

“In addition to the hand sanitiser issue, we are supplying a wide range of base materials that are essential in the fight against COVID-19. Chlorine for clean water, Hypochlorite for bleach and cleaning products, PVC for medical packaging, syringes, catheters, etc, and plastics for protective equipment. We also supply 1 in 10 UK homes with gas and supply all of the fuel needs of Scotland and Northern England from our refinery at Grangemouth. In all cases, we have pushed up production to meet the critical needs and our site-based staff have continued to work whilst following the Government social distancing instructions in order to deliver these critical materials.”

Do you have an alumni story you want to share? Email us at

published on: 8 April 2020