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Ethanol Ingredient Supplier DSM Taps Expansive Network to Provide Resources Across the Globe

May 20, 2020

Coronavirus, Membership, RFA News


DSM is a familiar face in the industry as a leading enzyme and yeast provider for ethanol producers. With offices in six continents and over 20,000 employees, DSM didn’t miss a beat in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic as it started sweeping across the globe. DSM quickly lived up to its purpose-led ethos by deploying resources in real-time to make a positive impact, providing donations and contributing to volunteer initiatives and projects all over the world, from the Netherlands to New Jersey as well as in the heart of ethanol country in Iowa.


As a large employer, DSM took additional precautionary actions at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure the health and safety of their employees, including imposing restrictions on travel, switching to working-from-home wherever possible, and increasing safety measures for those deemed essential employees at their production facilities. DSM even went so far as to provide all workers and their families free immunity-optimizing vitamins, produced by the DSM Human Nutrition & Health division.



In addition to providing health supplements and establishing heightened hygiene best practices to protect their employees, DSM has also donated vitamins, probiotics, and reserves of personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers and local communities near DSM production sites across Asia, Europe, Latin and North America. In fact, DSM re-engineered a production line in the Netherlands, where their global headquarters are located, to produce an initial 130,000 liters of disinfectant that was then donated to healthcare institutions across the country. DSM facilities in Switzerland and across North America followed suit, but DSM’s efforts didn’t stop there. Next, DSM created UNITE4COVID, an open access digital platform for inventors, manufacturers and certification labs to share approved and available COVID-19 resources and capabilities with healthcare providers  all over the world.


While it’s no secret that PPE has been critical for protecting healthcare employees from the virus, DSM’s science-based approach has proven to be instrumental for workers across all essential industries as developments were quickly made to design a better-fitting FFP2 face mask design that provides improved comfort and protection than the traditional mask. This project was done in collaboration with two important partners in the Netherlands, Delft University of Technology and the Reinier de Graaf hospital. In addition to facilitating this partnership, DSM is coordinating an international consortium with two other Dutch companies to source and produce up to one million FFP2 face masks per week since April 10 and coronavirus test kit equipment at-scale. The DSM Innovation Center also created a new production line for COVID-19 testing swabs, from idea to production, in just two weeks and plans to produce 2.8 million swabs to bolster the Netherlands testing efforts.


“Much of what we normally do at DSM is considered vital by governments because we contribute to the ongoing supply of food and medical equipment. Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our people and partners, and our enduring focus on their health and safety, our production sites remain open and we continue to serve our customers and society,” said Gareth Mead, a spokesperson from DSM. “We are applying DSM’s scientific know-how and resources to help ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and believe in the crucial role of bright-science to overcome this pandemic. The purpose-led ethos that runs throughout DSM is clear in these ‘business as unusual’ times.”


In the United States, DSM has leveraged their network to bring supplies and financial resources to the surrounding communities of their production facilities and offices in order to lend a helping hand to some of the United States’ most heavy hit areas, including New Jersey, where DSM’s US headquarters are located. Multiple communities in New Jersey and New York received donations, including:

  • 20,000 N95 masks to three nearby hospitals
  • 2,000 immunity-optimizing packs (“stix”) to front-line police departments in New Jersey
  • 3,500 surgical masks to medical first responders in New Jersey
  • 6,000 surgical masks; 1000 N95 masks and 1,000 immunity-optimizing sticks to Veterans Affairs nursing homes in New Jersey
  • $20,000 plus expertise in a partnership with Hardwire to produce face shields for health care workers in New York City.

 DSM has also demonstrated that support for small businesses in America’s Heartland is a priority through their financial donation to the Chamber of Commerce in Ames, Iowa. In Evansville, Indiana, the DSM Engineering Plastic site shipped material to General Motors to use in its ventilator production project, a collaboration with Ventec Life Systems that brought ventilators to Franciscan Health Olympia Fields in Olympia Fields, Illinois and Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago.


“DSM recognizes the value our network in the Midwest has to our business and the economic importance that small businesses have on these communities,” said Kelly Hawkinson, Sales & Marketing Director for DSM Bio-based Products & Services. “We’re happy to provide support in order to assist these communities weather the impacts of COVID-19 and look forward to continued work with them as we look beyond the pandemic to build a brighter future. DSM truly stands for Doing Something Meaningful.”


RFA has seen countless acts of charity from member companies amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and industry leaders like DSM further demonstrate the versatility and invaluable contribution of the renewables industry in being able to provide essential resources our neighbors and communities need them most.


This post is part of the Renewable Fuels Association’s #RFACommunityPartners series spotlighting individual member companies’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Jackie Pohlman