CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 960742 RH
U.S. Customs Service
40 S. Gay Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
RE: Protest Number 1303-97-100135; heading 4811; heading 4806; impregnated; coated;
This is in reply to your memorandum of July 9, 1997, concerning the Protest and Application for Further Review of Protest (AFR) number 1303-97-100135. The law firm of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz & Silverman, LLP, timely filed the protest on March 13, 1997, on behalf of Peterson Greaseproof, contesting the classification, liquidation and assessment of duty on paper. However, in footnote 1 of your Memorandum in Support of Protest you withdrew your claim as to the value issues in this particular entry.
According to your memorandum, this AFR is a lead protest, and your port has suspended four other protests filed by the importer concerning other entries of the same merchandise.
Review of the AFR is warranted under 19 CFR §174.24(b).
The record reflects that the protestant entered paper referred to as “CST Release” [previously known as Sno Pak Release Greaseproof] at the Port of Baltimore on June 5, 1996.
Counsel describes the paper as follows:
CST Release is a greaseproof paper made from a sulphite wood pulp. The pulp is made by placing wood chips into a digester and cooking it in an acidic magnesium bisulphite solution known as a cooking liquor. Impurities are removed and the pulp is subjected to a hard beating process which makes the cellulose fibers stick close together. This process
greatly reduces the porosity and absorption of the pulp, and forms an efficient barrier against grease. After beating, the pulp is distributed on an endless wire screen which runs over a number of rolls. The screens allow a web of paper to form and remove water from
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the web. The web is then passed through a press section and then through a dryer section. The paper is then sized at the size press where it is also lightly treated with chromium stearate (“quilon”).
Customs liquidated the entry on December 13, 1996, and classified the paper under subheading 4811.40.0000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), which encompasses paper and paperboard, coated, impregnated or covered with wax, paraffin, stearin, oil or glycerol.
The protestant believes the paper should have been classified under subheading 4806.20.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for greaseproof papers.
Is the CST Release paper classifiable under subheading 4811.40.0000, HTSUSA, as paper impregnated with oil, or under 4806.20.0000, HTSUSA, as greaseproof paper?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Classification of goods under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes. Where goods cannot be classified on the basis of GRI 1, the remaining GRI will be applied in order.
Additionally, Customs consults the Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System for guidance. The EN constitute the official interpretation of the nomenclature at the international level. While not legally binding, they do represent the considered views of classification experts of the Harmonized System Committee. It has, therefore, been the practice of the Customs Service to follow, whenever possible, the terms of the EN when interpreting the HTSUSA.
Counsel asserts that CST Release is a greaseproof paper. Greaseproof paper is defined in the EN to heading 4806, as follows:
Greaseproof papers (known in certain countries as “imitation parchment paper”) are made directly from pulp (usually sulphite pulp) by reducing the fibres to a state of fine subdivision and hydrolyzing them by prolonged beating in water. The paper is translucent and to a large extent impervious to oil and grease. In general it is used for the same purposes as vegetable parchment but, being cheaper, it is particularly suitable for wrapping fatty foods. It is hardly ever glazed and resembles vegetable parchment in appearance but can be distinguished from it by its lower resistance to water.
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Vegetable parchment and greaseproof paper are sometimes made softer and more translucent by the use of glycerol, glucose, etc., during the surface finishing. Such treatment does not affect their classification.
The EN to heading 4806 further state that “[t]he heading excludes papers which have been rendered greaseproof or waterproof by coating, impregnation or similar processes after manufacture of the paper (heading 48.09 or 48.11).
“Impregnated paper” is also described in the EN to Chapter 48, as follows:
Most of these papers and paperboards are obtained by treatment with oils, waxes, plastics, etc., in such a manner as to permeate them and give them special qualities (e.g., to render them waterproof, greaseproof, and sometimes translucent or transparent). They are used largely for protective wrapping or as insulating materials.
A Customs laboratory analyzed the CST Release paper in a different entry (Laboratory Report Number 3-95-22562-001, dated September 27, 1995) and determined that it had been “treated with a silicon.” However, the laboratory did not determine if the paper had been impregnated with that substance, and counsel claims that the Customs laboratory report is flawed because the laboratory did not perform any tests to determine whether the silicone oil permeated the paper. Counsel cites Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 089246 dated September 17, 1991 and HQ 951483, dated January 29, 1993. In HQ 089246, Customs cited The Dictionary of Paper 223 (4th ed. 1980), stating that “the term ‘impregnation’ refers to the process of treating a sheet or web of paper with a liquid.” In that ruling, Customs held that paper which had melamine added to it at the pulp as part of the furnish before the formation of the paper web was not impregnated for purposes of heading 4811, HTSUSA.
The other ruling counsel mentioned, HQ 951483, concluded that paper treated with a latex binding agent after the formation of the sheet was impregnated, whereas a latex binding agent applied during the formation of the sheet is considered only as a binder. Finally, in E. Dillingham, Inc. v. United States, 15 CIT 223 (1991), the court held that in order for paper to be “coated,” sufficient coating material must be applied to constitute a “layer.” The court further held that a “layer” is formed by the creation of a “new paper surface,” which must be “smoother and more uniform than the previous surface.”
Counsel also submitted two independent laboratory reports to support the protestant’s claim that the paper was not impregnated with oil. Integrated Paper Services, Inc., analyzed the paper and found trace amounts of a silicone-like substance, but determined that the amount was not sufficient to permeate the paper. Badger Laboratories found that the amount of silicon was less than 39 parts per million.
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In further support of the claim that the paper was not impregnated with oil, counsel points out that substandard paper is repulped and is mixed into the pulp used in subsequent batches of paper, and often has small amounts of one or more of various chemicals used in previous batches of other paper products. The cooking liquor is recycled after the digesting process is completed and trace amount of silicone and other chemicals might be detected in finished greaseproof paper, such as the silicon detected by the Customs laboratory in this case.
At our request, counsel submitted a declaration from Jan Fjeldsa, production manager of Peterson Seffle AB, and Oistein Vedahl, production manager of Peterson Greaker. Both facilities manufacture CST Release greaseproof paper. The relevant statements of each declarant read:
4. The paper is then sized at the size press where it is also lightly treated with chromium sterate (“quilon”) in amount not exceeding 1000 ppm total in the paper. No substances other than the aforementioned quilon are applied to the paper after formation of the web.
5. In the furnish stage of the paper making process, substandard paper is repulped (known as “broke”) and is mixed into the pulp used in subsequent batches of paper. Thus, paper products often have small amounts of one or more of various chemicals used in previous batches of other paper products, such as calcium, aluminum chlorine, silicones, sulfites, and sulfates. In addition, after the digesting process had been completed, the cooking liquor is recycled through evaporation and incineration, followed by recovery of the chemicals. The mill uses a silicone-based defoamer, Nalco 8604, in the process of chemical recovery. Trace amounts of silicone and these other chemicals might therefore be detected in any given sample of the finished greaseproof paper. Such chemicals would have been introduced into the paper only during the furnish state, prior to the formation of the paper web.
6. The CST Release Paper is not coated or impregnated with any substance.
Based on the information supplied by counsel and our consultation with a Customs scientist, we are persuaded that the CST Release paper was not impregnated with silicon, and that the trace amounts of silicone found in Customs examination are due to the processes described above. Accordingly, we find that the paper is classifiable under subheading 4806.20.0000, HTSUSA.
The CST Release paper is not coated, covered or impregnated with wax, paraffin, stearin, oil or glycerol. The correct classification of the paper is under subheading 4806.20.0000, HTSUSA, which provides for “Vegetable parchment, greaseproof papers, tracing papers and glassine and other glazed transparent or translucent papers, in rolls or sheets: Greaseprooof papers.” The paper is free of duty.
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Accordingly, the protest should be granted.
In accordance with Section 3A(11)(b) of Customs Directive 099 3550065, dated August 4, 1993, Subject: Revised Protest Directive, you are to mail this decision, together with the Customs Form 19, to the protestant no later than 60 days from the date of this letter. Any reliquidation of the entry or entries in accordance with the decision must be accomplished prior to the mailing of this decision.
Sixty days from the date of the decision, the Office of Regulations and Rulings will make the decision available to Customs personnel, and to the public on the Customs Home Page on the World Wide Web at www.customs.ustreas.gov, by means of the Freedom of Information Act, and other methods of public distribution.
John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division