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HQ 086207

May 9, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:G 086207 STB


TARIFF NO.: 4823.70.00

Mr. Alan Fetchik
Whatman Inc.
9 Bridewell Place
Clifton, N.J. 07011

RE: Modification of New York Ruling Letter 834601

Dear Mr. Fetchik:

This letter is in response to a January 6, 1990 request by the Chief, National Import Specialist Branch I, New York Seaport, for a partial reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 834601. A total of five items were classified in NYRL 834601; this reconsideration concerns the classification of "Cellulose Extraction Thimbles" listed as item #5 on the subject ruling letter. Several samples were submitted for our review.


In NYRL 834601, dated February 8, 1989, this office classified "Cellulose Extraction Thimbles" under subheading 4823.90.85, Harmonized Tariff System of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) as other articles of paper or paperboard with a duty rate of 5.3%.

Two of the samples were analyzed by the New York Customs Laboratory. In Laboratory Report No. 2-89-30278-001, of January 1, 1989, one sample demonstrated a weight of 654.4 GMS/M2, and a thickness averaging 2.16MM. It was found to consist of over 99% cotton cellulose fibers. The sample is uncoated and has an ash content of less than 0.1%. In Laboratory Report No. 2-90-30250- 002, of December 11, 1989, a similar sample was found to be composed of 100% cotton fibers with an average length of 3.3MM. The sample was found not to be coated or impregnated.

Information provided by Whatman, Inc., which is said to be "proprietary and confidential", describes the production of these thimbles as follows:

The thimbles, all sizes and thicknesses are hand made. The process is labor intensive but simple. A hand
held "mold" in the shape of a thimble is dipped into a vat of pulp. The mold is held in the pulp for a specified amount of time and then removed. By action of a slight vacuum, the pulp is pressed onto the exterior walls and forms a thimble. The newly formed thimble is then removed and placed on a drying rack.

Additionally, our lab was informed by your company that the samples are made from a "cotton slurry, shaped and molded, and is hand produced--the slurry being paper pulp."

Your advertising literature states that "the standard grades of Whatman extraction thimbles are manufactured from high- alpha cellulose cotton linters." The literature further states that "Since only virgin cotton linters are utilized in production, Whatman thimbles are essentially fat-free."

The primary use of these thimbles is in Soxhlet extraction units which provide a means of solvent extraction, i.e. filtering, of solids or semi-solids. Extraction in the Soxhlet system is by inflammable, toxic or odoriferous solvents.


Whether the subject thimbles should be classified as textile articles or articles of paper/paper pulp?

If the thimbles are not textile, should they be classified as articles of paper, articles of paper pulp or molded articles of pulp?


Classification under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings together with any relevant Section or Chapter notes.

In determining whether these thimbles are textile articles or articles of paper/paper pulp, several factors must be discussed. Our conclusion is that the totality of the factors indicates that these thimbles are not textile articles.

First, it should be noted that although the thimbles are composed entirely of cotton, the cotton is in the form of cotton linters. Cotton linters are classified in subheading 1404.20.00, HTSUSA. Note 1 to chapter 14 excludes materials utilized solely in the manufacture of textiles:

1. This chapter does not cover the following products which are to be classified in section XI: vegetable materials or fibers of vegetable materials of a kind used primarily in the manufacture of textiles, however prepared, or other vegetable materials which have undergone treatment so as to render them suitable for use only as textile materials.

Explanatory note (B) to chapter 14 tells us that cotton linters "are also sometimes used in the manufacture of certain varieties of paper, filter blocks and as a filler in the rubber industry." Thus, the use of cotton linters, even if the article is 100% cotton fibres, does not prohibit the paper classification.

The length of the fibres is also relevant. The lab report notes that the average fibre length of the samples was 3.3MM with actual observed lengths ranging between 3 and 4MM. Past Customs rulings have indicated that material with textile fibers in excess of 4MM were not likely to be paper. See Headquarters Ruling Letters (HQRL) 065193 and 077972. Although we cannot necessarily conclude from those rulings alone that the subject thimbles are paper/paper pulp products, the rulings do indicate the importance of fiber length in making the determination.

Also important is the manufacturing process. The method of manufacture that you have described is a typical paper making process.

Having decided that these thimbles are not textile articles, we conclude that they are properly classifiable under subheading 4823.70.00, HTSUSA, as "Molded or pressed articles of paper pulp", with a free rate of duty. This is a change from the classification in NYRL 834601 in which the thimbles were classified under subheading 4823.90.85, HTSUSA, as other articles of paper of paperboard, with a duty rate of 5.3%. This change is based on the description of paper in the General Explanatory Notes (EN) of Chapter 48 as consisting "essentially of the cellulosic fibres of the pulps of Chapter 47 felted together in sheet form." At no time during the production of the thimbles are the fibres ever put into sheet form. Therefore, the thimbles are articles of pulp.

The determination that these are molded articles of pulp is based on the manufacturing process. The manufacturing process is
extremely similar to that described for "Molded Pulp Products" in the Dictionary of Paper (A.P.I.,4th ed., 1980) at p.275:

Molded Pulp Products. Contoured products such as egg packaging cartons, food trays, plates, bottle protectors, etc., made by depositing fibers from a pulp slurry onto a perforated mold, using either pressure applied to the slurry or a vacuum behind the mold, and then drying the preform with heat.

The only recognizable difference between the production of the thimbles at issue (described at pp 1-2) and the process described above is the method of drying. According to information obtained in an April 25, 1990 telephone conversation with Mr. Walter Knott of your office, the thimbles are air-dried rather than dried by heat. This difference is de minimis; drying by heat is often merely a way to quicken the air-drying process. These thimbles are clearly molded articles of pulp.


The "Cellulose Extraction Thimbles" are properly classifiable under subheading 4823.70.00, HTSUSA, as "Molded or pressed articles of paper pulp" with a free rate of duty.


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