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Everything You Need to Know About US Milk Crate Law

Milk Crates Law Milk crates are one of the most versatile products around and can be used for everything from storage to fishing, furniture or even gardening. And the best bit of all is that you can simply pick them up for free from outside stores, right?


Milk crate theft is a really big problem for dairies and stores in the US and costs the industry thousands of dollars every year. While the big boys might be able to suck up this kind of loss, it can have a very real impact on the smaller shops and dairies and it’s you, as the consumer, who will end up paying for it.

However, there’s more reasons that you shouldn’t just find milk crates on the street to take home. As well as being unfair, it’s also illegal too. Yes, you read that right! To make sure you always stay on the right side of the law, here’s everything you need to know about milk crates and who can use them.

The Basics of Milk Crate Law

Milk Crates Law 2You’ve probably seen milk crates around from when you were a child, and even to this day you’ll spot them lying around outside stores. For some this is an open invitation to grab what they need, because the crates look like they’ve just been discarded.

But before you go right ahead and take a crate for your personal use, you might be interested to discover this is treated in law as milk crate theft. 

The crates that you see outside of stores and stacked up in the street aren’t being left out as garbage. Instead, this is the system that the dairies and stores have of returning the crates for future use. By stealing milk crates - because that’s how the law will view it! - you are taking an item which belongs to someone else and would have been put to productive use in the future.

Taking a milk crate for personal use may seem like a petty offence but the law takes it extremely seriously. The exact penalty varies from state to state but in general the discovery of stolen milk crates leads to a fine between $200 and $1000. In some cases, there could even be a short jail sentence too! Although that’s an unlikely punishment, if you’re hoarding milk crates on a larger scale it could be possible.

Some states stipulate the loss of milk crates in their legislation while others rely on more general common law principles. However, the outcome is the same in both cases: if you take milk crates and get caught, you can expect a hefty fine at the very least.

Why Milk Crate Theft is Such a Problem

Milk Crates Law 3

If you’re a fan of milk crates, you might be wondering why such a fuss is being made about such a small item. However, what might seem like a trivial matter to you is costing US dairies vast sums of money every year.

Stolen milk crates don’t just add up to hundreds of dollars, or even thousands; in a single year the loss of milk crates comes to an eye-watering $80 million. That’s around 20 million milk crates going missing in every year, a figure which is simply unsustainable.

Such big losses can’t go unaccounted for by dairies, so in the end, the cost is inevitably passed onto the customer. By taking a milk crate for yourself, all you are doing is pumping up the price of dairy products for everyone. This is unfair on other consumers, especially when it’s possible to buy milk crates from the manufacturer at a very affordable price.

Legal Milk Crates Direct

It’s not just the cost of replacing the milk crates that should be considered however; there’s also on environmental effect. Every crate produced uses up around four pounds of resin, a lump of plastic which needs to be shaped and then shipped. When created as a reusable form of packaging, milk crates are extremely eco-friendly. Built to last for many years, they are tough and durable, helping to protect the environment by reducing surplus packaging. However, when milk crates need to be constantly replaced because of theft, it’s a very different matter.

Dairy farmers need milk crates to be returned to keep prices low, and to make their processes eco-friendly. Taking milk crates for your own use is not a victimless crime, as it ultimately impacts everyone.

Find milk crates for sale

Although you can’t simply claim milk crates for your own, this doesn’t mean that you have to give up using them altogether. The strong construction and durable materials in a crate make them a versatile type of storage. Used for hobbies such as fishing and gardening, for a convenient display on a stall or even to make houses from, the possibilities with milk crates are endless.

Rather than taking milk crates from stores, you can buy as many as you want online and the best bit of all is that you can even choose the colors you want! Don’t risk having to shell out a huge fine for using milk crates illegally; buy your own supply today and enjoy endless storage, hobby and crafting opportunities!