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The Origin Of The Recycle Symbol

Gary Anderson was 23 years old when he entered a design competition held in 1970 by the Container Corporation of America which asked contestants to create a symbol for recycled paper.

Anderson won, and took home around $2,000 The winning symbol was given to the public domain, and that was it. He wasn't even a graphic designer — he was studying engineering at USC.

"It didn’t take me long to come up with my design: a day or two. I almost hate to admit that now," writes Anderson.

"But I’d already done a presentation on recycling waste water and I’d come up with a graphic that described the flow of water: from reservoirs through to consumption, so I already had arrows and arcs and angles in my mind."

The symbols - and variations of it - are now everywhere.

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