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NY A87170

October 18, 1996

CLA-2-48:RR:NC:2:234 A87170


TARIFF NO.: 4811.39.4040; 4823.20.9000

Mr. John E. McGowan, North American Representative Steinbeis Gessner GmbH
7 Purdue Road
North Edison, NJ 08820-1339

RE: The tariff classification of impregnated, textile-covered filter paper from Germany.

Dear Mr. McGowan:

In your letters dated July 30, August 26, and September 23, 1996, you requested a tariff classification ruling. Samples and exhibits were submitted and will be retained for reference.

The item in question, identified as grade "CAB 30," consists of a layer of epoxy resin-impregnated paper covered on one side with a sheet of nonwoven textile fabric made of polypropylene fibers.

Manufacturing information presented in your latest letter indicates that after the impregnated paper is formed, it is then spray coated on one surface with a relatively thin layer of polypropylene textile fibers. This operation is a "melt blown" method of producing an instant nonwoven textile fabric of staple man-made fibers. Although the textile web naturally adheres to the paper, the two layers are further bonded together by heat and pressure. We note that the paper side of the material bears a series of regularly-spaced, dot-like indentations, which presumably were made by a pronged roller or similar device during the bonding process. We also note that the two layers can be pulled apart from one another rather easily.

According to a printed "information sheet" accompanying the samples, the product has an overall weight of about 125 grams per square meter and a total thickness of 0.7 mm. Its composition, by weight, is said to be 63% cellulose (wood pulp fibers), 21% epoxy resin, and 16% polypropylene. You have indicated that the polypropylene represents only about 10% of the total raw material cost.

"CAB 30" will be imported in rolls ranging from 7 to 78 cm in width, and will then be used in the manufacture of cabin air filters for automobiles. After being slit (if necessary) to the required width, the material will be pleated/folded in accordion-like fashion to form a filter element, which will then be mounted in a frame or housing. The finished product will serve to filter particulate contaminants from the air inside an automobile's passenger compartment.

In response to our questions about the role of CAB 30's individual components, you stated that the epoxy-impregnated paper serves, in part, to support the layer of polypropylene fabric, but also, being itself porous, traps larger dust particles and allows air to flow freely. The air flow is from the paper side to the textile side. Smaller particles are stopped by the nonwoven textile. Both the paper and textile media contribute to the filtering function of the product. You have furnished a chart, from the manufacturer, comparing the fractional efficiency of the impregnated paper without the textile, to the paper with the textile. The textile removes the very small particles, but the major portion of the filtration is accomplished by the impregnated paper. In essence, the textile component plays a secondary role in the filtering function.

Epoxy resin is used as an impregnant in the paper for the following reasons: a) to stiffen the sheet so that it can be easily pleated and be capable of retaining the pleat; b) to impart resistance to moisture; c) to stabilize the paper, thereby insuring uniformity of air flow; and d) to act as a substitute for phenolic resins, which were formerly used in various automotive filter papers but which emit odors and have other "environmentally unfriendly" qualities rendering them unsuitable for cabin-air applications.

Your head office believes that "CAB 30" should be classified in subheading 4811.29.0000, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), which provides for certain gummed or adhesive paper or paperboard. We disagree. Although the paper layer of "CAB 30" is impregnated with epoxy resin, a substance often employed as an adhesive or ingredient thereof, the resin in this instance does not function as an adhesive (as explained above). Our practice is to limit "adhesive papers" to those which bear an adhesive substance intended to function as such, e.g., paper for postage stamps, sealing tape, labels or the like.

In addition, we must point out that some of the narrower roll widths (as contemplated by the size range indicated) will render the imported product ineligible for inclusion within any of the provisions of heading 4811. Note 7 of Chapter 48, HTS, limits the scope of heading 4811 (and various others) to strips or rolls exceeding 15 cm in width.

Accordingly, the applicable subheading for the "CAB 30" resin-impregnated, polypropylene fabric-covered paper, when imported in rolls exceeding 15 cm in width, will be 4811.39.4040, HTS, which provides for other (than certain enumerated) paper and paperboard, ...impregnated...with plastics (excluding adhesives). The rate of duty will be free.

The applicable subheading for "CAB 30," when imported in rolls not exceeding 15 cm in width, will be 4823.20.9000, HTS, which provides for other (than certain enumerated) filter paper and paperboard, cut to size or shape. The rate of duty will be 3%. This ruling is being issued under the provisions of Part 177 of the Customs Regulations (19 C.F.R. 177).

A copy of the ruling or the control number indicated above should be provided with the entry documents filed at the time this merchandise is imported. If you have any questions regarding the ruling, contact National Import Specialist Carl Abramowitz at (212) 466-5733.


Roger J. Silvestri

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