The recycling symbol, often referred to as the "universal recycling symbol," is a well-known symbol used to indicate materials that can be recycled. It consists of three chasing arrows forming a triangular shape, often seen with a number in the center that identifies the type of plastic resin used in the product. The true story behind the recycling symbol is as follows:

The recycling symbol was created in 1970 by a 23-year-old college student named Gary Anderson. At the time, Anderson was a senior at the University of Southern California studying civil engineering. He entered a design contest sponsored by the Container Corporation of America, which was looking for a symbol to promote the recycling of paper products.

Anderson's winning design featured three arrows that form a continuous loop, symbolizing the cyclical nature of recycling. He drew inspiration from the Möbius strip, a mathematical concept that represents a surface with only one side and one boundary. Anderson's design conveyed the idea that materials could be collected, recycled, and used to create new products in an ongoing process.

Although Anderson's original intention was to create a symbol for paper recycling, the design's simplicity and effectiveness led to its adoption as a more general symbol for recycling across various materials, including plastics, glass, and metals.

Over the years, the recycling symbol has become globally recognized, helping to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and sustainable practices. It serves as a visual reminder of our responsibility to reduce waste and promote environmental conservation.

The story of the recycling symbol illustrates how a single design can have a lasting impact on behavior and attitudes, helping to shape collective actions toward a more environmentally conscious society.

A lot has changed since 1970 and more and more variants and applications have come up for recycling. Therefore, Weno Geerts has developed an Upcycling, Downcycling and a Reuse symbol in the same style as Anderson's original Symbol. These designs where combined with the four models outlined by the Ellen Mac Arthur Foundation: Refill at home, Refill on the go, Return from home, Return on the go.