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HQ 089387

August 30, 1991

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 089387 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 5503.20.0000

Mr. Jeffrey H. Pfeffer
Fritz Companies, Inc.
40 Exchange Place, 12th Floor
New York, New York 10005

RE: Reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter 849353; Stein Fibers; polyester fiber; waste; stuffing; spinnable fiber; staple fiber.

Dear Mr. Pfeffer:

We have received your request for reconsideration of New York Ruling Letter (NYRL) 849353, regarding the classification of "polyester staple fibers." After considering your submission and other items presented, we find that NYRL 849353 is correct, and we decline to revoke or modify it.


The merchandise at issue is described variously as "polyester fiber" or "polyester staple fiber" or "polyester fiber waste." The precise method of manufacture is unclear, but it would appear that "regenerated materials" (polyester bottle scrap and x-ray film) are processed to create polyester fibers, which are then imported. It is our understanding that the samples which accompanied your request were provided to the New York Seaport at a meeting held with Customs representatives from the area. The samples have been tested by the New York Customs Laboratories and were described as follows:

The samples are composed of crimped, cut staple polyester fibers generally of uniform length.

The samples are not carded, combed or otherwise processed for spinning.

The samples are capable of being spun with further processing.

In addition to your request letter, you have provided several items of correspondence with Stein's suppliers regarding the condition of the merchandise upon arrival. Two reports issued by independent laboratories regarding the condition of the fibers are also included.

In a series of entries, dating from October 6, 1989 through March 20, 1990, Stein Fibers entered through the port of Savannah several shipments of fiber which were classified in heading 5903, HTSUSA. Fritz Companies, on behalf of Stein,
protested the classification (Protest number 1512-90000066, dated August 29, 1990). These entries span the date of the original New York ruling, dated February 28, 1990. Subsequent to the last protested entry, the request for reconsideration was filed (dated April 29, 1991). Disposition of the protest, we understand, has been held pending the resolution of this reconsideration request.


Is the merchandise classified as synthetic staple fibers, not carded, combed or otherwise processed for spinning, or is it classified as waste of man-made fibers?


Request for reconsideration and the pending protest

Because Fritz Companies, on behalf of Stein Fibers, has pending with the port of Savannah a protest action, this request for reconsideration should be returned to the inquirer without a response, or in the alternative should be made applicable to prospective transactions only. The Customs regulations provide generally that transactions for which entry has been made and for which liquidation has occurred, shall not be subject to the rulings program. Such cases should be pursued to their conclusion through the protest procedure. Therefore, Customs may refuse to reconsider the New York ruling as you requested.

We note however, that an identical issue would be presented under an application for further review of a protest decision, and we have therefore determined that a response to your reconsideration will be issued. However, should your protest be decided adversely to your interests, it will not be subject to the further review procedure. The following ruling will resolve any open issues with regard to the entries at issue in the pending protest. In the future, requests such as this for merchandise already subject to protested entries will be summarily denied and returned.


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes.

Your request for reconsideration, as well as your original ruling request, asserts that the proper classification for the subject merchandise is as "waste" of heading 5505, HTSUSA. In your April 29, 1991, letter you premise that assertion on the condition of the merchandise as having "large variances in denier, shade and staple lengths. The fibers are crimped and they contain snarls, broken filaments and, in many instances, must be dried and cleaned after importation . . .." You argue that the fibers are not suitable for stuffing and that they fall within the scope of "waste" as that term appears in heading 5505, HTSUSA.

Under the HTSUSA, Customs has classified as "waste" products which are the by-product of a manufacturing process, generally not suitable for the ordinary and original purposes of manufacture. Waste is a refuse product, and not a manufactured good in and of itself. In this case, all of the evidence you have provided indicates that the fibers are the specific (and intended) result of a deliberate manufacturing process. It is not a by-product of manufacture or the result of a mistake of manufacture. Whether or not it is suitable for its' intended use may affect classification in alternative headings, but simple unsuitability for use as stuffing, without further processing, does not automatically make the fibers waste material classifiable in heading 5504, HTSUSA. Lastly, the fact that the fiber may be manufactured from waste does not in any way make the manufactured fibers themselves waste. In this case, the quality of the raw material is irrelevant. We find that these fibers are not waste.

Having found that the fibers are not considered "waste" as that term is defined under the HTSUSA, Customs classified your merchandise under heading 5503, HTSUSA, as synthetic staple fibers not carded, combed or otherwise processed for spinning. While your letter focuses on the inclusion of this merchandise under the "waste" heading, it is implied that heading 5503, HTSUSA, does not include the fibers. In part, you argue that the Explanatory Notes substantiate your claims.

We do not agree.

The products classified in heading 5503 are synthetic staple fibers which have not been processed for spinning. The Explanatory Notes constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level. And, while they are not legally binding on the Customs Service, we do consult the Explanatory Notes in most instances to assist in discerning the intended scope of the headings. Therefore, we have considered your assertions that the Explanatory Note references to "waste . . . [as] relatively long or short fibers, broken, knotted or tangled, etc." and "staple fibers 'are generally of uniform length, which distinguishes them from waste material of heading 55.05.'" support your position.

Standing alone, those excerpts may appear to weigh against Customs' classification. However, we note that the General Explanatory Notes to chapter 55, HTSUSA, include the following:

The Chapter covers the man-made fibers described in the General Explanatory Note to chapter 54 when in the form of staple fibers (i.e., discontinuous fibers) or of certain filament tow; it also covers the products arising at various stages of working these fibers or tow . . .

(Emphasis added), as well as the Explanatory Notes to heading 5505, HTSUSA, which provide for the inclusion of:

(1) Fiber wastes (soft wastes), such as relatively long fibers obtained as waste during the formation and processing filaments; short fibers obtained as waste from the carding, combing and other processes preparatory to the spinning of
stale fibers (e.g., noils, small broken pieces of laps, slivers or rovings).

(2) Yarn wastes (hard waste), i.e., broken, knotted or tangled yarns collected as waste during the spinning, doubling, reeling, weaving, knitting operations.

(Emphasis original). The notes clearly anticipate that man- made staple fibers, not fully processed for spinning, may be classified in chapter 55, HTSUSA. However, the notes also make clear that merchandise such as the instant fibers are not waste. All of the characteristics described, such as "broken, knotted or tangled" are the unintended result of spinning, weaving or similar operations. Further, the "relatively long . . . or short" fibers are "obtained as waste" during fiber processing. Such descriptions as you cite cannot be read in isolation; they are relevant only in relation to the full text of the notes.

With regard to the question of "uniform length", Customs Laboratories have examined samples of the fibers on two separate occasions. First, samples drawn form the shipments entered at the port of Savannah were found to be of uniform length. Later, following a meeting with Customs officials in New York, Stein Fibers provided additional samples for testing. These too were found to be generally of uniform length. Thus, in two separate and unrelated examinations (including tests performed on samples of the importer's choosing), Customs has found the fibers to be of uniform length.

Your letter argues at length that the merchandise is unsuitable for use without further processing. You have indicated that the fiber will be used for stuffing. Heading 5503, HTSUSA, classifies both fiber intended to be spun and fiber for stuffing. Fiber may well be suitable for stuffing but not for spinning (i.e, lower grade fiber). This material was manufactured for use as stuffing; It is the intended result of such manufacturing and it is clearly within the scope of heading 5503, HTSUSA.


New York Ruling Letter 849353 is affirmed. The polyester staple fiber, found by Customs Laboratories to be of generally uniform length, and not combed, carded or otherwise processed, is classified in subheading 5503.20.0000, HTSUSA. The applicable duty rate is 4.9 percent ad valorem.


John A. Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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