Milk crates have to be one of the most universally useful industrially-produced objects out there.
For some reason, at least when I was younger it seemed socially acceptable to steal them. But these days the International Dairy Foods Association takes milk crate theft seriously, calling it "a pervasive and costly problem for the dairy industry" that leads to annual losses in the tens of millions. Current laws have accordingly been beefed up, and if you get pinched lifting milk crates, you're likely to catch a fine or worse.
If you need milk crates for your shop, home or business, consider acquiring them lawfully. If you're in America, you can order them directly from domestic manufactures like FarmPlast, an injection molding operation in New Jersey that sells them for reasonable prices, with multiple coloring and branding options, and can produce them from either virgin or recycled plastic, according to the customer's wishes. The company sells them through their website, MilkCratesDirect.com.
"Our customers range from creators of innovative furniture to those in industry who manufacture items en masse," the company writes. "Matching this versatility is the sheer range of colors and sizes of the milk crates we stock – spanning black, gray, red, blue, yellow, violet and brown which are for both rectangular crates and our square crates. Our rectangular crates measure 18.75" x 13" x 11" while our more compact square crates measure 13" x 13" x 11"."
The rectangular models hold 24 quarts and start at $10 each, while the square ones hold 16 quarts and start at $7, and the prices go down if you buy in bulk. "Our pricing for a full trailer of our milk crates is guaranteed to be the absolute lowest price on the market," the company says.