Meaning of the Recycle Symbol, Logo and Signs

The current recycling symbol was created in 1970 as part of a contest for graphic art students to design a logo that would represent paper recycling.  The recycling symbol has evolved over the years into several different variations that represent different materials.  The main color for the recycling symbol is green, but there are also other colors used.  The three arrows in the symbol represent the three steps in a recycling loop.  The first step represents the collection of materials that are going to be recycled.  The second step represents the sorting and processing of recycled products after they have been collected.  And the third arrow represents the use of recycled products by the consumer.

One of the reasons why recycling symbols are important is because they are a recognizable instrument to passively promote recycling around the world.  When you are looking to buy products made from recycled content, it is easy to spot them in grocery stores shelves when you you can recognize the logo while walking through the aisles.

Another reason why a recycle logo is important is to provide the correct label for recyclable products to avoid non-recyclable content to be gathered and transferred to the incorrect sorting and processing center.  When this happens, it becomes a waste of energy, time and money in transportation and collecting the incorrect materials.

Recycling bins will often have letters bellow the logo to show the type of material that is being recycled.  It shows if the material is paper, plastic, metal, glass, wood, compost, etc.  There are also recycling logos with a percentage (%) number inside that show the percentage of recycled content that is in the material.

Since the birth of the recycling symbol, there have been many variations by the recycling industry to promote specific types of recycling materials and content.  Additional new versions of the symbols and logo will keep on appearing as new types of recycled products are established.

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