Recycle Logo = Gary Anderson

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new environmental consciousness was emerging in high schools, colleges, and communities across America. In April 1970, the very first Earth Day was held, demonstrating the growing momentum of America’s environmental movement. About this same time, Container Corporation of America (CCA), a paperboard-packaging manufacturer, sponsored a contest to create a design that would symbolize the recycling process. CCA would use the symbol to identify packages made from recycled and recyclable fibres, and to promote paper recycling as an effective way to stretch our natural resources. At that time, CCA (now Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation), was the largest user of recycled fibre in the U.S., and easily could have asked its own corporate designers to create the symbol. Instead, the company decided that the younger generation, as “inheritors of the earth,” would be the best source for the new design, and invited environmentally concerned art and design students from across the country to enter the contest. A student by the name Gary Anderson won the contest. In the fall of 1970, CCA was working with other paper and paperboard producers to assess how there industry should best address the rising call for fibre recycling. Because CCA now had a new symbol, the company chose to license Gary Anderson’s design, refined and adapted for print-use by Bill Lloyd, to trade associations for a nominal fee. In September 1970, the three principal paper industry groups, the Fibre Box Association, the Paperboard Packaging Council and the American Paper Institute, accepted the symbol. CCA applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for registration of the symbol as a trademark. But registration for the symbol, now becoming popular due to CCA’s promotion of it, was challenged. The corporation dropped its application rather than fight for the trademark, and the Anderson design fell into the public domain. Several years later, CCA designed two revisions of the three-arrow recycling logo. The version with the arrows within a circle connoted recycled content (white arrows in a black circle meant 100% recycled content; black arrows in a white circle meant recycled content of a stated percentage). The second version had the recycling symbol as an outline, not enclosed in a circle. This connoted that an item was recyclable.

Mike Svoboda


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s