As New York officials weigh how to dispose of more than 700,000 gallons of state-manufactured hand sanitizer, Republican state Sen. Joe Griffo wants Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration to consider multiple options so the stuff doesn't go to waste.
The problem of what to do with the remaining hand sanitizer in part because the federal Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the state from distributing what's left, a spokesman for the Office of General Services said.
The surplus NYS Clean sanitizer was part of an effort from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by the then-Cuomo administration to scale up the supply of sanitizer amid an initial market shortage.
Two years later, the sanitizer is sitting unused in the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany.
Griffo, in a letter to Hochul, called the option of shipping the sanitizer out of state and burning it a potentially costly move. An alternative option, he wrote, would be to convert the excess sanitizer to energy.
"Earlier this month, my office spoke with a professor of sustainable environmental systems at a university in my district," Griffo wrote. "The professor outlined some alternative uses for the sanitizer, including potentially using waste to energy conversion facilities to transform the sanitizer into heat, electricity and other sources of power."
He pointed to an energy conversation facility in Oswego County that has converted more than a million tons of waste so far. Steam produced at the facility is sold to and used to generate electricity.
"I recognize the ever-present need to be prepared if an emergency were to occur," Griffo wrote. "However, we must ensure that this product does not go to waste and that taxpayer interests are protected."
The sanitizer was distributed in the initial weeks of the pandemic at stores, schools and nursing homes. Between March 2020 and March 2022, the state distributed nearly a million gallons of it.
Heather Groll, a spokeswoman for the Office of General Services, says demand dropped for it signifcantly in 2021 and a new FDA regulation required all surplus to be distributed by the end of March of this year.
"New York State is continuing to store the material in the safest manner possible now that FDA regulations prohibit the state from distributing the remaining supply of NYS Clean hand sanitizer, and we are determining the proper method for disposal and the timeline for doing so," she said.