Is the Swedish state involved in the disposal of expired ethanol products in Italy?

On the 11th of May 2023, during a visit to the chapel in Fonteno (BG), it was discovered that the hand hygiene solutions provided were sourced from Sweden’s state-owned APOTEKET AB. This raises significant questions about how such products ended up in Italy.

This situation is particularly concerning as it prompts inquiries into how the Swedish state handles expired and hazardous chemicals. The Swedish Riksdagen has set a clear goal of achieving a non-toxic environment. Read more about that here:

This goal aligns with efforts to minimize or, ideally, eliminate the use of dangerous chemicals, which stands in stark contrast to the export of expired alcohol products to other countries. In fact, within Sweden itself, government buildings have partially transitioned to being alcohol-free.

The objectives outlined in the “A Poison-Free Environment” are unambiguous: wherever possible, dangerous chemical usage should be eliminated, and if elimination isn’t feasible, chemicals should be used at a minimal level.

The product found in the chapel expired 2018.

The distribution of expired alcohol gel products presents several problems:

  1. Disposal Regulations: Swedish authority MSB’s regulations dictate that expired ethanol products should be disposed of at authorized recycling stations.
  2. Labeling and Compliance: Users in Italy cannot understand the label, including warnings and disposal instructions, which are in Swedish. Biocidal products in Italy must adhere to local regulations, including labeling requirements.
  3. Transportation Challenges: Transporting dangerous goods from Sweden to Italy necessitates special ADR transportations, increasing the risk of accidents and carbon dioxide emissions.
  4. Safety: Alcohol-based products are unsuitable in environments where there is a fire hazard (e.g., candles), risk of abuse (as in an unstaffed chapel), and potential for damage to floors, wood, and other interiors if spilled.

On a positive note, Hygiene of Sweden is collaborating with the Health Ministry of Italy to register the Swedish innovation of an alcohol-free antibacterial technology called BioPolymer+. This aligns with our mission to export a more sustainable solution to hand hygiene to more countries.

“The discovery of APOTEKET AB’s expired ethanol products in a remote chapel, far from conventional infrastructure, underscores the urgent need for education, regulation, and advocacy to ensure that politicians uphold their own environmental goals.” – Anders Karlsson, International Sales, Hygiene of Sweden

The leading Swedish pharmacy chains have been observed stockpiling ethanol products. Learn more about the unsustainability of hoarding products, considering both healthcare and environmental perspectives, not to mention the ethical considerations involved.

The question has been directed to Rasmus Nerman, CEO of Apoteket AB, to determine whether this incident was an isolated occurrence or part of a systematic disposal of expired products on the Italian market. Once we receive his response, it will be incorporated into this article.


Use disinfectants safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

Biocider ska användas på ett säkert sätt. Läs alltid igenom etiketten och produktinformationen före användningen.

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