Vectorized Recycling Symbols for Designers

By heather at 1:00 am on Saturday, October 28, 2006

Download Recycling Symbols Vector Graphics PDF (248 KB)

You think it would be easy finding a vectorized recycling symbol online…but nooooooo! So I created a set of recycling symbols in Illustrator, feel free to download the PDF above by clicking on it… to extract the vector graphics, just open the PDF in Adobe Illustrator.

In all that research, I got more aquainted with one of the world’s most recognizable icons… the humble recycling symbol. You may find some of these details helpful in selecting the right recycling symbol for your project.

“The universally recognized recycling symbol with three chasing arrows is a Möbius strip or unending loop… The Möbius loop symbol is in the public domain, and is not a trademark. The CCA originally applied for a trademark on the design, but the application was challenged, and the corporation decided to abandon the claim. As such, anyone is free to use the recycling symbol, although local laws may restrict its use in product labeling.” - Wikipedia

The chasing arrow logo with the white outlined arrows means that the package may be recycled where appropriate recycling programs exist.

The solid version is a variation of the theme and is often shown in green or other colors.

Arrows within a circle designate that the content is made from recycled materials. This recycling logo should not be used on printed material unless the paper contains a minimum of 30% post consumer waste.

Solid or white arrows in a black circle also indicate that the product contains recycled content. Often it will be accompanied by the symbol and a qualifying statement, for example, “Contains 50% Post Consumer Fiber.” When the solid black symbol with white arrows is used alone, it means that the product is 100% recycled.

Industry associations for glass, paperboard, and corrugated materials have all developed unique recycling symbols. On plastics it is used along with a numbering system (1-7) to help designate plastic resins used in the product.

A snapshot of the fabulous compilation of symbol lingo by Dion Zeus at EcoLingo.

Filed under: illustrations, business of illustration

105 Comments »

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Comment by Sally James

November 6, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

Hi Heather,

I have been searching high and low fora vector recycling symbol! Thnakgod I found your website!.

If you could email it to me that would be fab.

Many thanks in advance.
Sally

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Comment by Fellene Gaylord

January 30, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

Thanks for posting this. It is a huge help.

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Comment by Ben

January 31, 2007 @ 7:16 am

My saviour! How is it possible that possibly one of the world’s most recognisable logos is nowhere to be found on the internet as a vector download? It’s bonkers!

Thank you so much

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Comment by Jon

February 2, 2007 @ 8:12 pm

Oh dear lord, I searched the internet about 2 hours before finding this.

Thanks soooo much.

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Comment by jan

February 7, 2007 @ 11:05 am

thanks for your effort, just what i was looking for!

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Comment by Amy

March 6, 2007 @ 5:52 pm

I echo all with a big thanks for making this available on your site! Unbelievable that no recycling organization or even gov. websites had them available. Thanks for sharing!

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Comment by Jenna

March 30, 2007 @ 9:59 am

Wow, thank you for doing this. It is (of course) JUST what I’m looking for. A bunch of sites try to sell it. But I knew it had to be out there for free. Ta!

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Comment by james chen

April 9, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

great for doing…..thanks>

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Comment by Emmell

May 1, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

Thank you SOOOOOOO much for this. You are a champion.
A goddess of vector helpfulness.
(Considering the recycle logo is a non-copyrighted universal image, you’d think it would be more readily available. You’d think.)

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Comment by Nick Dearden

May 6, 2007 @ 6:47 am

Thanks for making life easier, vector based recycle logo great!!! You helped save the planet.. well every bit helps.

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Comment by GH

May 15, 2007 @ 1:38 pm

Thank goodness you posted this— I was searching high and low for vector-based recycle logos!

Well done.

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Comment by Sharon

May 21, 2007 @ 10:10 pm

Heather, you are a gem! I managed to find this fairly quickly after beginning my search, so I’m grateful I didn’t spend hours scouring the net before coming across your site. These will come in very handy! Cheers.

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Comment by gr4ph1c

June 14, 2007 @ 5:49 am

a humble thanks for your time and consideration of others…

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Comment by Avery

June 22, 2007 @ 5:48 am

Thanks! I had no idea it was going to be so hard to find this logo online.

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Comment by Gopal

June 27, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

Thanks a lot Heather.

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Comment by David

July 4, 2007 @ 5:43 am

Great, Thanks, I expend more time than expected searching for this logos.

17
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Comment by squips piplington

August 2, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

I’ve literally been searching the interweb for days now trying to find a vector of the recycle logo… and havent found a single one that is ready to download free.

this place is quite good

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Comment by Nadine

August 10, 2007 @ 6:28 am

This is great. Thanks a bunch!

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Comment by Adam Bognar

August 29, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

Thank you - this is most appreciated.

20
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Comment by joan

August 31, 2007 @ 3:53 pm

Thank you - the school that I work at is going green and I’ve been searching for a free logo to help with teaching about recycling!

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Comment by John

September 6, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

THANK YOU! a hard to find but necessary graphic!

22
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Comment by Diego

September 14, 2007 @ 9:38 pm

Thank you, i really need that logo.

You are my hero :D

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Comment by mave

October 6, 2007 @ 11:44 am

my hero! :^)

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Comment by Jess

October 10, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

i believe you shouldn’t have to pay for universal symbol artwork - your site was the only place i found the vector art for free! THANK YOU!

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Comment by Jerimiah

October 19, 2007 @ 8:36 am

Thank you.

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Pingback by Recycling Symbols for Print and Web Designers « Infomancy

November 10, 2007 @ 5:39 am

[…] Heather Castles’ Recycling Symbols for Designers - vectorized recycling and plastics symbols for free use. […]

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Comment by Stacey Gordon

December 1, 2007 @ 8:13 pm

Thanks Heather! It’s impossible to find one of these, you’re right.

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Comment by Jody

December 6, 2007 @ 12:26 pm

Holy Moly!
What a chore to find these symbols!

Why doesn’t the Environment Canada web site have them for companies to download? Maybe that’s part of the problem with companies not putting the recyling information on their packaging and products!

Anyway, that’s a whole pant load!

Jody

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Comment by Diana

December 8, 2007 @ 2:57 am

Thank you!!!!

I still need a trash-can with a bottle…i think it’s gone take 2 hours ;p

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Comment by Tom

December 14, 2007 @ 2:51 am

I agree with all the previous posts! Unbelievable that these symbols are thát hard to find. And that in an era recycling is needed more than ever!

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Comment by Ellie

January 8, 2008 @ 5:00 am

Brilliant! Thanks for this it has saved me alot of time.

32
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Comment by Chloe

January 11, 2008 @ 7:02 am

Thankyou thankyou thankyou - yet again you have saved some designer’s (frustrating) day!

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Comment by Bubbila

January 31, 2008 @ 2:46 pm

Thanks, have been looking for these logos for a while. They have come in handy…

34
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Comment by DJ

February 11, 2008 @ 8:29 pm

Thanks, by chance found your logo’s. saved me plenty of time searching around for them. Well done.

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Comment by JC

February 23, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

These are great! Do you know where to get an FSC vector Logo? These are ridiculously hard to find. Thanks again!

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Comment by CrisMo

April 10, 2008 @ 9:27 am

Thanks for this. You are a true advocate for our planet. I hope we continue to do our bit as an industry.

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Comment by Mark W, Sweden

April 12, 2008 @ 4:34 am

Thanks for posting this. Helped me really alot!

38
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Comment by Syd

April 12, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

Dear Heather — Thank you SOOOOO much for offering these vector images!!! I’ve been searching high and low for something that works. Thanks for making it easier for us to show our commitment to sustainable lifestyles.

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Comment by Matias

April 15, 2008 @ 11:55 am

Thanks. Another one saved by you.

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Comment by Jennifer

April 15, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

Thank you! You’ve saved me lots of time. :)

41
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Comment by bederk

May 21, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

thank you!

42
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Comment by priscilla

May 28, 2008 @ 8:05 am

You are a gem for posting this! I humbly thank you from the bottom of my heart.

43
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Comment by Meredith

June 1, 2008 @ 11:04 pm

Thank you so much. I agree with everyone here that this information should be much more accessible. You have saved me hours of work.

44
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Comment by John Paling

June 8, 2008 @ 7:34 am

Dear Heather,
Thank you for your kind intentions but it is still not accessible to me as you clearly intend it to be.

Thank you but . .
How do I get a single image from a pdf page containing many, please?
Can they be downloaded singly for posting at the bottom of a document.

And also have you found why this sign is not freely made available by government agencies and recycling companies etc etc. What is going on behind this dearth of freely available recycling graphics, I wonder?

45
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Comment by Chuck

June 18, 2008 @ 12:17 pm

Thanks very much for these…

@ John Paling: Just open the pdf in a vector graphics program and grab what you need…

46
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Comment by Lauren

July 12, 2008 @ 7:07 am

This is so helpful. Thanks for taking the time!

47
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Comment by pilar

August 2, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

i am interested in the vector art for the recycle logo. I saw your GREAT pdf template, but alas just need vector art.
many thanks,
pilar

48
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Comment by Jen

August 4, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

Thank you so, so much — you’re a lifesaver! (Note to others: This PDF can be opened and edited in Illustrator.)

49
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Comment by Judson

August 8, 2008 @ 4:36 am

Am I missing something? How do you extract the vectors from the PDF file? When I bring it into Ai, it is one image that cannot be ungrouped.

Thanks!

50
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Comment by K

August 15, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

51
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Comment by Ann

August 21, 2008 @ 10:10 am

You are very generous to have produced these symbols for public use. In my search for recycling symbols I did come across an industry site that has developed and made available the symbols for general use as well. It is http://www.recyclelogos.org/

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Comment by Carol

August 27, 2008 @ 11:07 am

Excellent. Thanks so much. I’ve been making stickers for my work and home so more people can recycle.

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Comment by elijah

September 16, 2008 @ 12:11 am

Dear Heather
thank you so much. We have jst launched our website. We manufactre recycled paper and products. this symbol was truly needed. the info you have supplied is really helpful.

54
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Comment by Melissa

September 18, 2008 @ 5:07 am

Thank you, Heather! I have one that I drew in Illustrator back in the late ’80s, but I never did all the variations. It is so thoughtful of you to have these for all to share!

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Comment by Morgan

September 28, 2008 @ 8:34 am

Heather ROCKS!!!!!

56
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Comment by Andrew MacBride

October 12, 2008 @ 8:00 am

Heather, thank you from the bottom and top of my heart. You’ve combined beauty and information together, creating a pleasing experience at all levels. I found your site because I was looking for recycling symbols; I’m now bookmarking it for future reading and learning pleasure.

57
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Comment by Paul

October 17, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

Many, many thanks Heather. My customer wanted the universal recycling symbol outline and inside the arrows in blue and the outer arrows in green, the vector art made this a breeze.

58
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Comment by Eric

October 22, 2008 @ 4:43 am

Many thanks, Heather! The vector recycle-symbols are a huge help.

59
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Comment by Penny

November 27, 2008 @ 9:16 am

Thank you so much! Do you happen to know if there is a specific symbol for water reclaiming?

60
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Comment by Deb

November 30, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

Hey Heather, Can you tell me if there is there a government or a green authority that lists recycled qualifications?

Thanks!

61
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Comment by Renee

December 10, 2008 @ 9:03 am

Thank you so much for providing a free Recycled symbol in illustrator! I have a start-up eco-friendly fitness apparel company for tall men and women and I’ve been looking for quite a while for a recycled symbol that I could manipulate and incorporate into our signs. We use a lot of recycled polyester fabric in our line and now I can show that off better at events!
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Happy Holidays,

Renee, Owner/Designer Vertical Athletics Inc

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Comment by Phil

December 16, 2008 @ 2:40 am

Heather,

Many thanks, you are a star!

Kind Regards
Phil

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Comment by yoho

January 20, 2009 @ 12:03 am

Yay! Very useful graphics for designers.
Thanks for your works!

64
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Comment by Belinda

January 21, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

Thankyou so much! :)

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Comment by jen

January 29, 2009 @ 10:35 am

Thankfully I found this site not too far in my frustrated search…thanks so much!

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Comment by Catherine

February 6, 2009 @ 10:26 am

Thanks so much for these! Very useful!

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Comment by Phillip

February 10, 2009 @ 6:00 am

Thanks soo much, a great help, carry on the good work!

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Comment by Kate

March 13, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

Hi, thank you so much for this valuable info! It’s hard to find free vector art… you rock.

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Comment by ben

March 28, 2009 @ 5:12 am

thanks. xoxoxoxo.

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Comment by solipsis

April 2, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

Thanks so much for making this available for free! Both the graphics and all the information are really useful.

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Comment by Teo

April 4, 2009 @ 1:49 am

Tanks a million….

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Comment by Chris L.

April 4, 2009 @ 4:10 am

Thank You, saves a lot of time. You are right about not being bale to find these. Thanks SO MUCH!

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Comment by ames*one

April 14, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

Thanks for creating this. You’ve made it a lot easier for the rest of us who are also trying to do our small part to save the environment!

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Comment by pw!

April 16, 2009 @ 7:58 am

thanks! a huge help!

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Comment by Little Room Design

April 22, 2009 @ 10:23 am

Thanks you soooo much! What a time saver and you are doing a great service for the environment!

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Comment by Missy

June 2, 2009 @ 8:08 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
I couldn’t see paying $10 for a vector version of something everyone uses.

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Comment by zOnk.oNe

June 16, 2009 @ 11:28 am

Very nice. Big thanks for offering this up. I really didn’t want to create this from scratch :)

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Comment by asherrard

June 23, 2009 @ 7:13 am

THANKS SO MUCH! This is awesome!

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Comment by Heidi

June 24, 2009 @ 10:22 am

Thanks so much for posting this…I looked all over the place for this symbol!!!!
You saved the day!

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Comment by NIALL

June 26, 2009 @ 4:41 am

Lifesaver! Many thanks. One of those annoying symbols that you are sure you must have a copy of… until you go to search for it.

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Comment by Janice

July 9, 2009 @ 11:36 pm

Thank you sooo much - I’ve just spent the best part of an hour trying to find vector recycling symbols with no luck - then I came across your website - what a great help!

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Comment by Leah

August 18, 2009 @ 11:16 am

Thank you!!!!!

83
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Comment by doug

August 18, 2009 @ 11:21 am

great resource! thanks.

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Comment by Herb

August 25, 2009 @ 6:24 am

Heather,

Thank you very much!

Much needed resource.

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Comment by Denise Higginsion

September 16, 2009 @ 10:11 am

Thank you SOOO much.

86
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Comment by DavidTehGnome

September 21, 2009 @ 7:07 am

This symbol is universal by definition. It is plastered absolutely everywhere. It has gone through many mutations as of late, with additions of secondary symbols/designs placed in the center, tweaking of the arrows angles etc. Basically the creators of this highly recognizable design have for some reason seen fit to completely bastardize it. After such success, why would graphic designers and company adherents purposefully damage this veritable institution of a logo? Not to mention, leave it so under represented online. Perhaps it is a fear that the negative space in the aforementioned logo might spark some questions from the public at large concerning sneaky dual imagery and power hungry cliques having a good laugh at the sometimes less than perceptive public’s expense.

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Comment by Dani

October 9, 2009 @ 3:26 am

Thank you very much. Your file is of great help after trying to find some of the icons on the web without success.

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Comment by siri

October 29, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

thanks, mucho appreciated!

89
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Comment by Praveen

November 11, 2009 @ 7:06 pm

Its my bless that I found this site. thankyou too.

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Comment by Teresa

November 19, 2009 @ 11:21 am

Thank you SO much, I found this site on the 2nd Google listing under my search for “free recycle vector art”. Perfect!!!

91
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Comment by Scott

April 5, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

thanks for making this available! and double thanks for making it available for free.

92
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Comment by Gabriel

May 5, 2010 @ 3:27 am

Thank you very, very much.
It’s quite usefull indeed.
Brilliant!

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Comment by Rosemberg

May 19, 2010 @ 10:23 am

Thanks for sharing. This is will be used in recycling trash can.

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Comment by John Rich

June 7, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

These are awesome! Downloaded the PDF imported it into OmniGraffle and viola our extra 40 gal trash bin is now a recycling bin. Thanks so much.

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Comment by Agata Klein

July 21, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

Hi Heather,

Thanks VERY much for this - what a great help! By the way your illustrations are incredible. Thanks again!!

Really appreciate your work on this - I’ve added you to my resources page on my site.

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Comment by Dwight Zahringer

August 20, 2010 @ 10:09 am

Wow- great find. So, sooooo nice of you to provide them here - thank you much!

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Trackback by studio1c website development SEO and design

August 31, 2010 @ 10:18 am

Free Earth Day, Planet, Green, Environmental, Recycle Vector Art…

Free Earth Vector, recycle, earth, green leaf, solar panel, wind turbine, clean energy, wind power, alternative energy, green living, clean energy, green home, environmental protection, environmentalism, green power, water conservation, alternative ene…

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Comment by Daren

September 17, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

Thanks for that

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Comment by Thank you!

October 21, 2010 @ 8:34 pm

Thank you so much for this. You’re right, surprising it’s not online. Thanks for the info too!

100
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Comment by Jess

May 1, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

Wow thanks a bunch for posting this online! I’ve spent a good half an hour searching for an official download…not sure there even is one… :S But your vectors look spot on! Great work! :)

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Comment by Kath

May 5, 2011 @ 8:05 am

Thank you so much for sharing your symbols! It made my day much easier today!

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Comment by Fred

June 23, 2011 @ 7:55 am

Thanx for sharing!

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Comment by Leslie Blanton

September 20, 2011 @ 9:12 am

Hi

I work for a University and need to create an Environmental Benefits Statement for our print literature. THANK YOU SO MUCH for your efforts. Just look at the long list of people you have helped. Must feel wonderful. You rock! — Leslie

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Comment by Bogdan

March 7, 2012 @ 6:07 am

Thank you so much for sharing symbols with us.
They were very useful.

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Comment by Admin from Brambleberry Greyhounds

April 26, 2012 @ 12:24 am

Thanks so much - I’ve been searching for a decent vectored recycling image to use on our charity tee shirts etc! Perfect - thank you. :)

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