Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein joins Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss the climate crisis, and his push for climate change to be the core pillar of this year’s Presidential Debates.
BRIAN SOZZI: President Trump and democratic nominee Joe Biden are set to take the stage next week for their first presidential debate. And while the country continues to grapple with both COVID-19 and the ongoing climate crisis, some business and world leaders are calling for action at this year's debates.
Joining us now to discuss is Seventh Generation CEO Joey Bergstein. Joey, good to see you. Now, you issued an open letter to the co-chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates. It's not often you see consumer products companies wade into the political waters, so why did you make this stand?
JOEY BERGSTEIN: Well, it's really clear that time is running out and we need to take action now. The science is very clear. We know climate change is real. That's not up for debate. But we need to know where the candidates stand. What's the actions that they are going to take to be able to lead us through this climate crisis that we're in right now? And we want to hear from the candidates on these issues that we think are absolutely critical to this generation, the next generation, and future generations.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFORUS: Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with the EPA Chief, Andrew Wheeler, about a number of different things, including California's new regulations on emissions. And he stands by the administration's environmental policies, saying that they're more in-line with realistic expectations for the auto industry, for the oil industry. Do you see it that way?
JOEY BERGSTEIN: No, I think over the last four years, we've taken some real steps back. And we really need to put ourselves onto a path to be able to get to clean energy by 2030. We're going to be making a lot of investment as a country around infrastructure as we emerge through this crisis. And that's got to be in the areas of clean energy, clean air, clean water. There's a lot of crises that we need to address at this moment in time, and the climate crisis is absolutely one of them. We can't continue to take regressive steps on climate. We need to step forward as a nation.
BRIAN SOZZI: How are you thinking about changing anything or making or reinventing or innovating your products over the next 5 to 10 years just to help on the climate-change front? Certainly, you guys have led in this department, but are we looking at new packaging from you?
JOEY BERGSTEIN: Yeah, absolutely. We really think about climate in three dimensions. So it's in the products that we make. It's an internal carbon tax that we impose on ourselves to hold ourselves accountable. We think every company should be holding itself accountable for the pollution it creates. And then, thirdly, around advocacy and taking stances to try to move the country forward.
On the product front, we launched about a year ago an ultra concentrate the laundry detergent that is 70% less waste, 60% less plastic, 50% less water, much more efficient-- one example, we just launched a zero-plastic range to really ensure that we're finding ways to get plastic out of packaging as we go forward-- continuing to innovate in a number of different places to bring innovative solutions to address this crisis that is really in front of us and really encourage other companies to do the same and to continue to innovate in this space, and to people, in general, to support those companies that are taking these stances and are holding themselves accountable for the change that we need to create.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFORUS: Joey, I know at the height of the pandemic, it was really hard to find any paper products, not just your brand, but almost anything on store shelves. Things have gotten a little better. What are you seeing from the demand side and the supply chain side? Has that run on paper goods started to ease? And what's your supply chain looking like?
JOEY BERGSTEIN: That's a great question. For Seventh Generation, I wish it was for different reasons, but it's been an unbelievable year. We're working really hard to supply the public need and demand for safe and effective hygiene products. We're improving our ability to supply, but the demand is just so much stronger than where our capacity has been in the past. In some of our lines, our disinfecting range in particular, we have on some of the products doubled, tripled, and in one case, we've multiplied capacity by seven-fold to try to meet the demand that's out there.
In paper products, we have almost doubled the size of our paper business to try to meet the demand that's out there. And there's still more demand that's out there. People are at home and consuming these products at a pace that they haven't before. So we're doing everything we can to meet the demand. We're really grateful that people are looking for safe and effective cleaning and hygiene products and they're choosing Seventh Generation and other brands like that to really meet those needs right at this moment.
BRIAN SOZZI: Joey, we've talked to a lot of consumer products companies throughout the pandemic, and they have admittedly had to raise prices because of the increased cost of production, higher costs for their employees. Have you had to raise prices on your products?
JOEY BERGSTEIN: No, we haven't raised our prices at all. So we're really committed to trying to keep our products as accessible as we possibly can so that we can meet the need that's out there for everybody. I will say, our promotions, we have fewer promotions today than we have in the past, because it's hard to promote our product if you don't have full supply on the shelves. But our prices have remained as they were pre-crisis.