We recently received an interesting question from a high school student who contacted us after viewing our web site. She was doing a project on recycling and was curious about the recycling symbol in our logo and whether or not she could freely use the symbol in her project.
The original recycling symbol was designed in 1970 by Gary Anderson at the University of Southern California. He was just 23 years old at the time and his design was submitted to the International Design Conference as part of a nationwide contest sponsored by the Container Corporation of America (later part of Smurfit-Stone Container).
The contest was called “For The Love Of Earth”, and it was aimed at art and design students. It was a result of the continuing growth in consumer awareness and environmentalism and a response to the very first Earth Day.
Known Around The World
Since then the recycling symbol has become one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. A simple and elegant design, it is based on the Mobius Loop discovered by German mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Mobius in 1858.
The symbol consists of three chasing arrows in the shape of a triangle having rounded vertices. Mobius found that a strip of paper twisted once over and joined at the tips formed a continuous, single-edged, one-sided surface. The loop would remain twisted when the ends are connected if there were an odd number of twists in it – in this case three.
This Symbol Belongs To All Of Us
The recycling symbol is in what is called the “public domain.” It is not a trademark. The Container Corporation of America applied for a trademark for the design but the application was challenged and the Corporation decided to abandon its efforts.
For this reason, countless variants of the symbol exist. Anyone is free to use the symbol although local laws may restrict its use in product labeling, for example, where its use would be misleading or deceptive.
We use the symbol in our logo, because we want to communicate that the recycling of metals is one of the more important ways for individuals and companies to be environmentally responsible.
A very interesting discussion of the history of the recycling symbol and its designer Gary Anderson can be found at:
Metal Tips & Tricks
The structure was apparently a lot of work to put together and with winter around the corner, she was concerned with rust. If it was made of steel, it would either have to be covered or taken apart and stored until Spring.
Steel would of course be heavier than aluminum but a simple test would be to determine if a magnet sticks to the metal or not. If the magnet sticks, the metal is steel. If the magnet does not stick, the metal would be aluminum.