The Möbius-loop recycling symbol is now defined in some ISO
standard that also specifies text that goes into it for material
class markings (e.g., PS4 for a certain type of polystyrene,
This symbol is sometimes encountered in books and other printed matter to
show that the paper used was recycled; and in such situations it would seem
that it is a "character", i.e. it is typeset rather than "artwork". I
believe it was originally a trade mark owned by the Container Corporation
of America, but they have released it into the public domain (horses and
stable doors, probably), and it is now promoted by the American Forest and
Paper Association for this purpose.
In fact there are two variants (black symbol on a white circle or no
background, and white symbol on a black disc) to indicate partly recycled
and 100% recycled paper, respectively. For these purposes it is recommended
that explanatory text be placed under the symbol: i.e. it is not "pierced"
(or "combining") in the way that the corresponding symbol for plastics is.
In the same category there is now also a symbol (character?) to indicate
permanent paper (i.e. uncoated lignin-free and acid-free paper meeting
certain strength requirements); it consists of the infinity symbol in a
circle, introduced as an American standard by the National Information
Standards Organization and now adopted by the International Federation of
Library Associations and the International Organisation for Standardisation
(ISO 9706). It is recommended that it be included with the imprint of
books, and therefore seems to meet at least the naïve definition of a
I hope this is relevant.
Séamas Ó Brógáin
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