CLA-2 CO:R:C:M 957022 DWS

Ms. Lynn S. Baker
Katten Muchin & Zavis
525 West Monroe Street, Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60661-3693

RE: Reconsideration of HQ 557669; "BiCart Column" Cartridges; Sodium Bicarbonate; Dialysis Machines; GRI 5(b); HQs 082357; Kores Manufacturing Inc. v. U.S.; 9018.90.75

Dear Ms. Baker:

This is in response to your letters of May 10 and October 31, 1994, on behalf of Cobe Laboratories Inc., requesting reconsideration of HQ 557669, dated March 3, 1994, concerning the classification of "BiCart Column" cartridges under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). Pursuant to section 625, Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625), as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, Pub. L. 103- 182, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186 (1993) (hereinafter section 625), notice of the proposed revocation of HQ 557669 was published December 21, 1994, in the Customs Bulletin, volume 28, Number 51.


The merchandise consists of "BiCart Column" cartridges, designed for use solely with dialysis machines. The cartridges are comprised of a specially shaped polypropylene cartridge containing 650 grams of sodium bicarbonate powder. They are imported in packages of ten units and are designed for one time use only. When attached to a special holder affixed to the kidney dialysis machine, the cartridge allows "on line" production of the liquid bicarbonate concentrate required for dialysis.


Healthy human kidneys produce bicarbonate, which neutralizes the large quantities of acid produced in the body by cell metabolism. Because persons with renal disease (kidney failure), who require dialysis, are unable to naturally produce bicarbonate, the chemical must be provided through dialysis treatment. The dialysis solution is made up of an electrolyte solution which approximates the concentrate of normal plasma. Most often, the solution produced by the dialysis machine contains five chemical compounds: sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, and magnesium chloride. Due to the tendency of the bicarbonate and the remaining chemicals to react over time and form magnesium carbonate or limestone, which clogs the dialysis machine, two separate concentrates are used: sodium bicarbonate and acid concentrate. A dual proportioning system contained in the dialysis machine itself continuously mixes the two concentrates as needed during the dialysis procedure to produce a constant supply of free flowing dialysis solution.

Traditionally, bicarbonate concentrate was sold to hospitals in two forms, dry powder or liquid concentrate. With dry powder, the hospital is required to mix it with water to produce the concentrate. Liquid concentrate is heavy and difficult to store. Delivery of bicarbonate concentrate from the powder directly to the dialysis machine helps eliminate the problems associated with these other two forms. This process is achieved by the use of the "BiCart Column" cartridges. Each cartridge snaps into a special holder attached to the dialysis machine. When the cartridge is placed in the special holder, water is drawn from the dialysis machine through the cartridge to produce a saturated sodium bicarbonate solution. The dialysis machine, through its dual proportioning system, then mixes the solution with water and the acid concentrate to produce the dialysis solution.

The subheadings under consideration are as follows:

9018.90.75: [i]nstruments and appliances used in medical, surgical, dental or veterinary sciences, . . . ; parts and accessories thereof: [o]ther instruments and appliances and parts and accessories thereof: [o]ther: [electra-medical instruments and appliances and parts and accessories thereof: [o]ther: [o]ther.

The general, column one rate of duty for goods classifiable under this provision is 4.2 percent ad valorem. 3

2836.30.00: [s]odium hydrogencarbonate (Sodium bicarbonate).

Goods classifiable under this provision receive duty-free treatment.


Whether the "BiCart Column" cartridges are classifiable under subheading 9018.90.75, HTSUS, as parts of medical instruments, or under subheading 2836.30.00, HTSUS, as sodium bicarbonate.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUS is in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined according to the terms of the headings and any relative section chapter notes.

In HQ 557669, we held that the sodium bicarbonate cartridges were classifiable under subheading 9018.90.75, HTSUS, as parts of medical instruments.

Sodium bicarbonate is specifically classifiable under subheading 2836.30.00, HTSUS.

GRI 5(b) states that:

[s]ubject to the provisions of rule 5(a) above, packing materials and packing containers entered with the goods therein shall be classified with the goods if they are of a kind normally used for packing such goods. However, this provision does not apply when such packing materials or packing containers are clearly suitable for repetitive use.

The cartridge themselves are merely containers for the conveyance and storage of the sodium bicarbonate, even if they are specially shaped in order to be incorporated in a dialysis machine. Goods are almost always transported in some form of container or package. However, even if that package is specially shaped, it does not alter the classification of the good pursuant to GRI 1.

As we stated in HQ 082357, dated November 29, 1989 [a Tariff Schedules of the United States (TSUS) ruling concerning the classification of toner cartridges]:


[r]ather than a part, the cartridge supplies fuel for the copier, fuel which is as expendable as any other fuel. As mentioned in T.D. 35151, a completed rifle does not contemplate the cartridges used. So, too, the concept of a photocopier would not necessarily include the toners. The toner enables the machine to produce a printed image on paper, it is just as complete without the toner.

The toner cartridge represents a minuscule, if not infinitesimal, portion of the cost of the copier. The cartridge is nothing more than a container for fuel which must be constantly replenished.

The "BiCart Column" cartridges are not classifiable under subheading 9018.90.75, HTSUS, as parts of medical instruments. Whether an article is a part of another article depends on the nature of the so-called "part" and its usefulness, function and purpose in relation to the article in which it is designed to serve. Kores Manufacturing Inc. V. U.S., 3 CIT 178, 179 (1982), aff'd appeal No. 82-83 (C.A.F.C. 1983).

Counsel has stated that the cartridges are not essential to the operation of the dialysis machine. In fact, the sodium bicarbonate can be added through other, more traditional methods. However, the process is much easier through the use of the cartridges. Similar to the toner cartridge in HQ 082357, the "BiCart Column" cartridges are nothing more than containers of a chemical which must be constantly replenished. The dialysis machine is a complete machine and operates as such with or without the presence of a "BiCart Column" cartridge.

Therefore, in accordance with GRIs 1 and 5(b), the "BiCart Column" cartridges are classifiable under subheading 2836.30.00, HTSUS.


The "BiCart Column" cartridges are classifiable under subheading 2836.30.00, HTSUS, as sodium bicarbonate.

HQ 557669, dated March 3, 1994, is hereby revoked. In accordance with section 625, this ruling will become effective 60 days after its publication in the Customs Bulletin. Publication 5

of rulings or decisions pursuant to section 625 does not constitute a change of practice or position in accordance with section 177.10(c)(1), Customs Regulations [19 CFR 177.10(c)(1)].


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division