Thar Process, a hemp processing company in O’Hara Township, Pa., near Pittsburgh, has begun to create hand sanitizer to protect its city’s homeless population, its local government workers and the company’s own employees from COVID-19.
The idea came about in part because Todd Palcic, company president, received a visitor at his home the morning of March 29. It was 4:26 a.m. and cold and wet, he said, and his unexpected visitor was looking for the nearby Light of Life Rescue Mission, a nonprofit that provides food and shelter for the homeless.
Palcic said he lives in a former dairy that was later converted into an auto repair shop before it became a residential space, so it looks like a commercial building. And he’s right around the corner from Light of Life.
“It had rained most of the day Saturday, so it was probably a really cold night to be out, to find a dry place, and there's this guy looking for it,” Palcic said.
Thar Process began creating the sanitizer to provide to residents of the shelter and local police and fire departments. Palcic also said that his company plans to hand out bottles of sanitizer to Thar Process’ more than 100 employees.
As a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) facility, Thar Process already had certain health protocols in place, such as the provision of hairnets, gloves and sanitizer to employees.
Thar Process uses organic ethyl alcohol, hemp extract and terpenes to make its sanitizer, Palcic said. It has two different sanitizer formulations, one of which includes aloe gel.
The processor has two sites—one with a roughly 78,000-square-foot building that includes 20,000 square feet of processing and 10,000 square feet of storage, and the other with an approximately 25,000-square-foot storage space, Palcic said.
Thar Process dedicated its filling room to creating the hand sanitizer. “It's not a convenient scenario, but we can run this for a week,” Palcic said. Beyond that point, Thar Process might have to create new practices, but Palcic said he hopes to produce the sanitizer for three months or longer.
The company is reaching out to the public to purchase sanitizer; for every bottle purchased, it said it will donate one to someone in need. To that end, it is currently working on an ecommerce option, Palcic said.
Sanitizer production allows Thar Process to push through a tough time not only for the world, he said, but specifically for the hemp industry, which has experienced some issues.
“I feel bad for everyone who's been in hemp and taking a real beating over the last six months,” he said. “It's a tough industry to be in, I think, right now. We've been very fortunate—we're fairly diverse, we go beyond hemp as far as processing and our equipment. ... So, we look at it as, 'Hey, this is one way to keep people busy while we can afford to do that.’”