Why It’s Illegal to Use Milk Crates for Anything Besides Milk
By Andrew Jenner on August 28, 2013

For the past five or so years, I’ve had a three-bin system going in my mudroom to separate my recyclables. There’s one for #1 and #2 plastics, one for #3 and up plastics and one for paper and cardboard, as necessitated by the convoluted and piecemeal recycling program where I live. Three red milk crates do the trick perfectly — conveniently sized, movable, stackable and indestructible.

I have no idea where, when or how I acquired them. Like the mismatched plates and glasses in my cupboard, they’re a product of household agglomeration over a decade of post-college moving, roommate-swapping, getting married, and the other assorted vagaries of domestic living. Regardless, these milk crates make for great recycling bins, and so it was with shock and amusement that I would occasionally stop to read the stern warning printed on the side:

“Unauthorized use of milk cases illegal. Fine of $300 or imprisonment up to 90 days, Pennsylvania Law Act No. 37 1987.”

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