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Abandoned stash of hand sanitizer expected to take months, millions of dollars to recycle

Millions of bottles of hand sanitizer were produced by New York State amid a shortage during the pandemic
Virus Outbreak New York
Posted at 7:25 PM, Sep 21, 2022

Hundreds of thousands of gallons of unused New York State-made bottles of hand sanitizer have been left sitting unused on a runway at a state training facility in Utica, New York that will now need to be recycled with a cost of somewhere around $4.3 million, according to estimates.

In 2020, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimated that the gallon-size bottles cost somewhere around $6.10 to make. There are currently over 700,000 gallons of unused NYS Clean hand sanitizer sitting outside, unused, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

Now authorities say the very expensive answer to New York's pandemic-era temporary hand sanitizer shortage will cost around $2.3 million to pay Eastman Kodak to transport the sanitizer to Rochester, to distill the mixture and remove the isopropyl alcohol so that it can be used for manufacturing, CBS 6 Albany reported.

Virus Outbreak New York
Hand sanitizer manufactured by the state of New York sits on display during a news conference held by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday, March 9, 2020, in Albany, N.Y. In response to shortages of the germ-killing gel, the state hopes to produce 100,000 gallons a week. (AP Photo/Marina Villeneuve)

Former-Gov. of New York, George Pataki, said, "It's disappointing that something got so out of control. On the one hand, you want to give him credit for proactively trying to make sure that people had the ability to protect themselves. But you gotta do it an intelligent way."

It's expected to take the better part of a year to recycle an abandoned stash of hand sanitizer that sat unused in central New York.

Watch the 2020 full press conference with then-New York Gov. Cuomo introducing the hand sanitizer project:

New York lawmakers from both parties were reportedly "shocked" when local news cameras captured the pallets of unused hand sanitizer sitting in Oriskany. Lawmakers took advice from colleges and universities on how to recycle it all and reduce waste as much as possible and cost-effectively.

New York authorities say it could take around 44 weeks to move 168 trailers full of material from Oriskany to Rochester.