First Came Tea, Then Came Reusables: Pluscrates Expands Business in France

Tea chests were early reusable containers for commercial movers.

The concept of plastic crates for commercial moves has been well established in the UK for many years, writes John Mitchell from Pluscrates in a recent release, and he says it is a practice that can be linked back to the hot beverage sipping habits of that island nation. The first reusables were tea crates, followed by an evolution of other reusables.

Image of tea chest courtesy of

According to Mitchell, the fibre board crate, produced by Denton Containers, was the first nesting and stacking crate to be used by a British commercial mover in the early 1970s. This primed the market for the first plastic injection moulded crates, from GPG Containers, which really kick started the crate rental business. It’s never really looked back and today, around 1,000,000 crates are out on rental to moving companies and direct to businesses every day throughout the UK. It’s become a big business.

Perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that the Brits latched onto this logistical revolution with great enthusiasm, Mitchell observed. Before the first crate came off the production line there was only one real contender for the commercial mover: the dreaded tea chest. The tea chest undoubtedly had its charms, but after a day of lugging them around from office to van and back, those redeeming features were hard to appreciate. They were heavy, impossible to clean, inflexible, could not be sealed and ripped your hands to shreds. They were sometimes still half full of tea of course, so it wasn’t all bad news.

Faced with the choice between the tea chest and a clean, reusable, stackable, sealable container that left hands unscathed and could be made in a variety of sizes, the reusable plastic crate was firmly set on a winning track.

While the UK embraced reusables for commercial moves, such was not the case in France, where corrugated cartons remained the container of choice. Mitchell speculated that part of the problem may have been a lack of tea chests. The French just didn’t drink enough tea! Things are changing, however, and Pluscrates is renting more crates for commercial moves across The Channel than ever before.

The arguments are the same as were recognised right from the start. Crate rental is convenient, cost-effective, environmentally sustainable and hygienic. What’s more, operators and customers like them because they are easy to handle, easy to stack, and can be nested as soon as they are empty to save space as the new working environment returns to normal. Just in time for tea.


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