king technology

King Technology: A Step Forward for Sustainability

King Technology introduces a program to recycle and repurpose spa cartridges

King Technology, based in Minnetonka, Minnesota, is no stranger to innovation and sustainability. It was the first to introduce pre-filled pool and spa cartridges, and its FROG products use up to 75% less chlorine than other options. Now, it is pushing the boundaries even further with the launch of its new recycling program in partnership with TerraCycle.

The program, first announced at the November 2022 International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Las Vegas, is designed to collect previously unrecyclable spa cartridges and turn them into new, usable products. Because products in the spa industry are often considered too difficult to recycle due to expense, bulk or the use of hazardous chemicals, an effective recycling program is a rarity and has generated excitement. 

The partnership with TerraCycle, an award-winning, global company known for recycling the unrecyclable, is “a great solution at a great time,” says Alex King, regional sales manager of King Technology. The company considers this program a quick way to have an immediate impact on the environment while working on long-term sustainable changes.

“Delivering a solution like this allows all of us to get a little bit better,” King says. “It’s a first of its kind in the industry, and we hope that it’s not the last.”

To participate in the program, retailers pay for a Zero-Waste Box on King Technology’s website. TerraCycle prints the boxes and ships them to the retailer who sets up the in-store box for customers to return empty cartridges. When the box is full, the retailer seals and returns it via UPS with the pre-paid label. Once TerraCycle receives the product, they begin repurposing it. Old cartridges are disassembled, washed, sorted and ground into pellets. Eventually, that material is sold to manufacturers where it will be made into outdoor furniture, decking and similar products.

This type of recycling and repurposing helps achieve the goals of a circular economy, a concept that has gained momentum in recent years as a solution to sustainability issues. In a circular economy, goods are created and consumed in ways that minimize waste and reduce the use of natural resources. In contrast to a linear economy, in which products are often quickly discarded and end up in landfills, products in a circular economy are designed to be used over and over until they reach the end of their life and are recycled into usable materials. 

Developing sustainable products may require more initial time, expense and innovation, but Alex Granlund, product marketing manager for King Technology, says the company sees it as a worthwhile investment. 

“We’re investing not just dollars but also the engineering time and the tooling time,” Granlund explains. “This is a significant time investment for a lot of people at our company. But our mission is to enrich lives daily, and this is going to enrich a lot of people’s lives generations from now.”

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Alex King says this program could affect both consumers and industry professionals. “Even employees who work at King Technology are interested in what we’re going to do to address sustainability, so it’s as much for our employees as it is for our dealers and consumers,” King says. “We all want to collectively come together to make our products better, make our industry better and ultimately leave a lasting impact on the world we leave behind for our kids and grandkids.”

We all want to collectively come together to make our products better, make our industry better and ultimately leave a lasting impact on the world we leave behind for our kids and grandkids.”

Alex King, King Technology

The team at King Technology believes the benefits of this program are worth the cost. Though this initiative is not profit-generating, there is a $249 charge for the retailer per Zero-Waste Box. This charge helps cover the fees associated with managing and maintaining the program while keeping it free for the customer. 

However, the possibility of increased customer acquisition, retention and engagement from the program could help negate the cost for the retailer. In a post-COVID world where many customers buy their spa supplies online, a recycling program could generate additional in-store foot traffic. Many consumers prefer to support businesses that have sustainability initiatives, and King Technology plans to make it even easier by having a Recycling Dealer Locator on the TerraCycle website, so consumers can locate a participating store. 

“For customers that this is really important to, they’re going to bypass other stores to go to the stores that have these boxes,” Granlund says.

The first boxes shipped in February of 2023, but King Technology saw enthusiasm for the product long before then. 

“It was pretty incredible,” Granlund says. “We had retailers signing up months before we’re able to actually ship them the box. To have people willing to hand us their credit card for something that would be coming four months later and something that they had never heard of before … It was really encouraging, No. 1 to see their trust in us. And then No. 2, to see the passion that they had to make a positive impact on the environment.”