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HQ 089860

April 3, 1992

CLA-2 CO:R:C:F 089860 STB


TARIFF NO.: 4823.90.70

Mr. Bernhard B. Barta
General Manager
Franz Haas Machinery of America, Inc.
6207 Settler Road
Richmond, Virginia 23231

RE: Packaging Trays made from Gelatinized Starch and Cellulose

Dear Mr. Barta:

This is in response to your inquiry requesting the tariff classification of packaging trays made from cellulose and gelatinized starch. A sample was submitted with your request.


The sample submitted with this request is a tray used to package meat products. In a telephone conversation of February 12, 1992, Ms. Janet Morgan of your organization informed Customs that this material will perform a myriad of other uses as well. Though it visually resembles styrofoam, it is made not from a plastic material but from a mixture containing starch, cellulose and other ingredients. You have provided a description of the process by which this product is made.

Starch granules are partly crystalline, and therefore water insoluble. When the granular structure is disrupted, starch gains the ability to dissolve. When starch granules come in contact with water of a certain temperature, normally above 65 degrees Celsius, they start to swell. This process is called gelatinization, and refers to the swelling and hydration of granular starches. A gel of a certain viscosity is formed. When this starch gel is dried, the starch granules do not recrystallize to their original structure, but remain in a state of molecular association, where they adhere to each other by hydrogen bonding.

The starting mixture from which this product is made contains starch, cellulose, water and various additives such as release agents, emulsifiers, fillers and colors. The mixture is heated inside baking molds under pressure. In the first stage of the baking process, when most of the water is still inside the dough, gelatinization occurs. When the temperature rises over 100 degrees Celsius and the steam leaves the mold through the steam slits, the gel is dried down to a very low water content. The remaining steam bubbles give the product its porous texture. The freshly baked product is brittle, due to a lack of water in the starch structure. Additional strength is given to the product during a conditioning step, where the water content of the material is increased from about one percent to ten percent by contact of the product with air of a controlled moisture content.

The sample was analyzed by the Headquarters Customs Laboratory. The analysis showed that the sample consists essentially of starch and broken or chopped wood fibers and therefore may be classifiable as an article of cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose.


Whether a finished article, in this case a meat packaging tray, which consists essentially of starch and wood fibers should be classified on the basis of the wood fiber content, the starch content, or on some other basis?


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 relative section or chapter notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may then be applied.

It is our determination that this product can be classified pursuant to GRI 1. As noted supra, the Customs Laboratory found that the article consists "essentially" (emphasis added) of wood fibers and starch. According to The Dictionary of Paper, Fourth Edition, 1980, at pp. 80-81, cellulose wadding normally contains "wood pulp." "Wood Pulp", according to The Dictionary of Paper at p. 455, is made up of wood fiber. These definitions support the laboratory finding that the product is classifiable as an
article of cellulose wadding in subheading 4823.90.70, HTSUSA. As noted, the other primary component of the final product is starch. However, while the tariff schedule does include provisions for the classification of several starches, there is no provision for finished manufactured products of starch.


The packaging tray is classified in subheading 4823.90.70, HTSUSA, the provision for inter alia, other articles of paper pulp, paper, paperboard, cellulose wadding or webs of cellulose fibers, other, other, other, of cellulose wadding. The applicable duty rate is 3.6% ad valorem.


John Durant, Director

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