The Recycling Symbol. We see it almost everyday, and almost anyone can tell you what it means. It is rare for an abstract design to gain such widespread recognition. But where did it come from?

The symbol was designed in the early 1970s when architecture and urban planning student Gary Anderson responded to a design competition by the Container Corporation of America. The contest was to design a symbol to represent recycled paper.

Anderson modified and polished a design he had used earlier for a presentation on recycling waste water, and won the competition. After winning, he saw the symbol on a bank statement once and then forgot about it until seven years later while traveling in Europe when he saw the symbol on a recycling bin. The rest is history.

You can read the full story on the Financial Times website.