Milk crate

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Furniture made from milk crates
Expedient stepping stones

Milk crates are square or rectangular interlocking boxes that are used to transport milk and other products from dairies to retail establishments.


In English-speaking parts of Europe the term "bottle crate" is more common but in the United States the term "milk crate" is applied even when the transported beverage is not milk.[ citation needed ]


The dimensions of the milk crate may have been influenced by the dimensions of the tea chest. For all practical purposes, both hold similar internal volumes, but tea chests are designed for shipping over the open ocean.

The bottle crate emerged after the tea chest was a de facto shipping method. The plastic milk crate is claimed as an Australian invention, produced through a period of trial and error in design by the Dairy Farmers Cooperative Milk Company in the 1950s and 60s. [1]


Middle 20th century bottle crates were made of wood, later ones were stainless steel, and those made in the latter part of the century were of heavy-duty polyethylene.

The most common milk crate sizes are designed to carry several 1-US-gallon (3.8 l; 0.83 imp gal) milk jugs: [2]

Number of jugs carriedInternal dimensions
412 by 12 inches (300 by 300 mm)
618.25 by 12 inches (464 by 305 mm)

Uses and recycling

Milk crates are often stolen for either personal or business use or for the plastic that they are made out of. Theft of milk crates can cost dairies millions of US dollars per year. [3]

This has led at least one dairy farm to hire a private investigator to discover what is happening to the crates; [4] the results of investigations point to plastic re-sellers being the culprits in the majority of thefts. [5]

Alternate shipping methods

In July 2008, Wal-Mart and some other stores introduced a square milk jug that does not need to be transported in a crate. Sometimes called "green" milk jugs, they are not green in color, but rather are claimed to be environmentally friendly.

These new milk jugs are stackable, and can be transported without crates. Companies need not buy plastic for the crates, nor transport or wash them. [6]

See also

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Packaging and labeling Enclosure or protection of products for distribution, storage, and sale

Packaging is the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of designing, evaluating, and producing packages. Packaging can be described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end use. Packaging contains, protects, preserves, transports, informs, and sells. In many countries it is fully integrated into government, business, institutional, industrial, and personal use.

Milk caps is a game that was popular among children during the early-mid 1990s.


A pallet is a flat transport structure, which supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, a pallet jack, a front loader, a jacking device, or an erect crane. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies. Goods or shipping containers are often placed on a pallet secured with strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap and shipped. Since its invention in the twentieth century, its use has dramatically supplanted older forms of crating like the wooden box and the wooden barrel, as it works well with modern packaging like corrugated boxes and intermodal containers commonly used for bulk shipping.


A crate is a large shipping container, often made of wood, typically used to transport or store large, heavy items. Steel and aluminium crates are also used. Specialized crates were designed for specific products, and were often made to be reusable, such as the "bottle crates" for milk and soft drinks.

Container-deposit legislation

Container-deposit legislation is any law that requires the collection of a monetary deposit on beverage containers at the point of sale and/or the payment of refund value to the consumers. When the container is returned to an authorized redemption center, or retailer in some jurisdictions, the deposit is partly or fully refunded to the redeemer. It is a deposit-refund system.

High-density polyethylene Class of polyethylenes

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polyethylene high-density (PEHD) is a thermoplastic polymer produced from the monomer ethylene. It is sometimes called "alkathene" or "polythene" when used for HDPE pipes. With a high strength-to-density ratio, HDPE is used in the production of plastic bottles, corrosion-resistant piping, geomembranes and plastic lumber. HDPE is commonly recycled, and has the number "2" as its resin identification code.

Glass milk bottle

Glass milk bottles are glass bottles used for milk and are generally reusable and returnable. Milk bottles are used mainly for doorstep delivery of fresh milk by milkmen: retail store sale is available in some regions. After customers have finished the milk they are expected to rinse the empty bottles and leave it on the doorstep for collection, or return it to the retail store. The standard size of a bottle varies with location, common sizes are pint, quart, Litre, etc.

Intermediate bulk container

Intermediate bulk containers are reusable, multi-use industrial-grade containers engineered for the mass handling, transport, and storage of liquids, semi-solids, pastes, or solids. The two main categories of IBC tanks are flexible IBCs and rigid IBCs.


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Plastic milk container

Plastic milk containers are plastic containers for storing, shipping and dispensing milk. Plastic bottles, sometimes called jugs, have largely replaced glass bottles for home consumption. Glass milk bottles have traditionally been reusable while light-weight plastic bottles are designed for single trips and plastic recycling.

Milk bag Plastic bags that contain milk

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SmithFoods is a regional maker of dairy products, beverages, and ice cream headquartered in Orrville, Ohio. The company sells products under two major brands, Smith's and Ruggles, as well as private label brands, for both retail and wholesale distribution.

Square milk jug

The square milk jug is a variant of the plastic gallon container of milk commonly sold in the United States. The design was introduced in the summer of 2008 and is marketed as environmentally friendly because of the shape's advantages for shipping and storage.

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Reusable packaging is manufactured of durable materials and is specifically designed for multiple trips and extended life. A reusable package or container is “designed for reuse without impairment of its protective function.” The term returnable is sometimes used interchangeably but it can also include returning packages or components for other than reuse: recycling, disposal, incineration, etc. Typically, the materials used to make returnable packaging include steel, wood, polypropylene sheets or other plastic materials.

Package handle Packaging component

Package handles, or carriers, are used to help people use packaging. They are designed to simplify and to improve the ergonomics of lifting and carrying packages. Handles on consumer packages add convenience and help facilitate use and pouring. The effect of handles on package material costs and the packaging line efficiencies are also critical. A handle can be defined as “an accessory attached to a container or part for the purpose of holding or carrying.” Sometimes a handle can be used to hang a package for dispensing or use.

Packaging waste

Packaging waste, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), defined containers and packaging as products that are assumed to be discarded the same year the products they contain are purchased. The majority of the solid waste are packaging products, estimating to be about 77.9 million tons of generation in 2015. Packaging can come in all shapes and forms ranging from Amazon boxes to soda cans and are used to store, transport, contain, and protect goods to keep customer satisfaction. The type of packaging materials including glass, aluminum, steel, paper, cardboard, plastic, wood, and other miscellaneous packaging. Packaging waste is a dominant contributor in today's world and responsible for half of the waste in the globe.


  1. Meares, Joel (3 August 2014). "A tall order for the humble milk crate amuses its inventor". The Sydney Morning Herald . Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  2. "About Farmplast". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  3. Brat, Ilan (June 6, 2006). "Police ask: got milk crates?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  4. Loepp, Don (July 2007). "Milk Crate Bandits". Plastics News. Archived from the original on 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  5. "Los Angeles County Crate Theft". April 2008, Los Angeles County Solid Waste Management Committee / Integrated Waste Management Task Force. L.A. Department of Public Works.
  6. "Cheaper, Stackable, "Green" Milk Jugs Cause a Stir" Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine . Jason Mick (Blog), July 1, 2008,