CLA-2 RR:CR:TE 962403 GGD

Ms. Barbara Lett
Rubbermaid, Incorporated
Home Products Division
1147 Akron Road
Wooster, Ohio 44691-6000

RE: Sport Drink Bottle, Carrier, and Ice Pack; Composite Article; Headings 3924, 3926, and 4202, HTSUSA

Dear Ms. Lett:

This letter is in response to your request of September 4, 1998, to Customs National Commodity Specialist Division, concerning the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) of an article consisting of a plastic sport drink bottle, a textile carrier bag, and a "Blue Ice"™ pack. The bag is manufactured in China and the remaining components are made in Malaysia. A sample was submitted with your request. Your letter was referred to this office for our reply. We regret the delay in responding.



The sample - identified as "The Original 'Blue Ice'™ Sport Bottle" - consists of a twenty ounce sport drink bottle, a removable sealed pack of Blue Ice™, and a bottle carrier. The bottle is composed of molded plastics. It features a specially designed, twist cap top with a plastic tubular drinking straw affixed below the cap and a swivel drinking nozzle on the top. The Blue Ice™ pack provides a renewable means of keeping a liquid cool. The bottle carrier is somewhat similar to a sheath, holster, or canteen cover, is specially shaped to contain the bottle, and is designed to be worn on the person. The carrier has an exterior surface composed of plastic sheeting backed by a thin layer of nonwoven man-made textile fabric. The carrier has a lining of plastics and its interior front has a pocket designed to contain the ice pack. The top opening of the carrier is designed to secure the bottle by means of a cord lock which fits around the bottle's neck. Since the bottle is not completely enclosed, the drinking cap is accessible at all times. The bottle is not of a kind normally sold on its own. Although the carrier is specially fitted for this bottle, it is also of a kind that is sold at retail on its own. As a whole, the components are designed to provide easy access to hydration (drinking liquids) while the user is engaged in a physical activity.


1) Whether the “Original 'Blue Ice'™ Sport Bottle” is classified as a composite article or as separately classified components.

2) If classified as a composite article, whether the article is classified under heading 4202, HTSUSA, as a container used to organize, store, protect and carry various items; under heading 3924, HTSUSA, as other household articles of plastics; or under heading 3926, HTSUSA, as other articles of plastics.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI). GRI 1 provides that the classification of goods shall be determined 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 may then be applied. The Explanatory Notes (EN) to the Harmonized Commodity


Description and Coding System, which represent the official interpretation of the tariff at the international level, facilitate classification under the HTSUS by offering guidance in understanding the scope of the headings and GRI.

The article essentially consists of components which together provide a user with access to liquids, but which, if imported separately, would be classifiable under separate headings, i.e., heading 4202 and a heading or headings under chapter 39, HTSUSA. Since the components are classifiable in different headings, the complete good cannot be classified by reference to GRI 1. In pertinent part, GRI 2(b) states:

The classification of goods consisting of more than one material or substance shall be according to the principles of rule 3.

GRI 3(a) directs that the headings are regarded as equally specific when they each refer to part only of the materials contained in mixed or composite goods....We next look to GRI 3(b), which states in part that:

composite goods...which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character, insofar as this criterion is applicable.

The applicability of GRI 3(b) is dependent upon whether the complete article is deemed to comprise a composite good. In pertinent part, Explanatory Note IX to GRI 3(b) indicates that:

For purposes of this Rule, composite goods made up of different components shall be taken to mean not only those in which the components are attached to each other to form a practically inseparable whole but also those with separable components, provided these components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary and that together they form a whole which would not normally be offered for sale in separate parts.

In this instance, although the bottle, carrier, and ice pack are separable, the three components are adapted one to the other and are mutually complementary. The ice pack fits into the carrier's interior front so that the bottle and its contents will remain (or become) cool after insertion of the bottle into the carrier. The carrier is also fitted for


this particular bottle which has its own special features. Although the carrier is of a kind that may be sold either on its own or with a container, it is not likely that this bottle component would normally be sold separately from a carrier. In light of the above, we find that the bottle, carrier, and ice pack constitute a composite good.

In order to determine the essential character of the composite article, we first look to Explanatory Note VIII to GRI 3(b), which provides the following guidance:

The factor which determines essential character will vary as between different kinds of goods. It may, for example, be determined by the nature of the material or component, its bulk, quantity, weight or value, or by the role of a constituent material in relation to the use of the goods.

Before determining the article's essential character, however, we will first examine the treatment - by Customs and the courts - of certain goods classifiable under the headings at issue.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, provides, in part, for “ cases...holsters and similar containers; traveling bags...bottle cases...and similar containers....” The exemplars named in heading 4202 have in common the purpose of organizing, storing, protecting, and carrying various items. EN (c) to heading 4202 indicates that the heading does not cover articles which, although they may have the character of containers, are not similar to those enumerated in the heading.

The classification of certain containers - portable, soft-sided, insulated cooler bags with outer surface of plastics - was examined by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in SGI, Incorporated v. United States, 122 F.3d 1468 (Fed. Cir. 1997). The CAFC focused on whether food or beverages were involved with the eo nomine exemplars set forth in the tariff provisions at issue and, without discussion of heading 4202 exemplars that organize, store, protect, and/or carry food or beverages, the CAFC held that the appropriate classification for the cooler bags was subheading 3924.10.50, HTSUSA, the provision for “Tableware, kitchenware, other household articles...of plastics: Tableware and kitchenware: Other.” The Court stated that this classification “does encompass exemplars that are ejusdem generis with the coolers because their purpose is to contain food and beverages.”


This office concluded that the CAFC’s decision in SGI should be implemented and issued instructions to Customs field personnel (and to members of the importing community) by which the principles of the CAFC’s decision were expressly extended to portable, hard or soft-sided, insulated coolers and similar insulated containers with outer surface of plastics or with outer surface of textile materials. The instructions also stated that the classification of bottle cases, insulated bottle bags, and similar containers (if designed to contain only one bottle or similar single unit of a beverage, regardless of the unit’s capacity) was unaffected by SGI.

The “Original 'Blue Ice'™ Sport Bottle” is not similar to the soft-sided, insulated cooler bags at issue in SGI, nor to other household articles of plastics classifiable under heading 3924. Standing alone, the carrier is similar to a sheath in the manner that its interior is form-fitted for the sport drink bottle. The fact that the carrier is designed to transport a single bottled beverage also renders the carrier component somewhat similar to a bottle bag. Although the carrier component is somewhat similar to a container of heading 4202, the design, features, and use of the complete article are principally related to providing hydration during physical exertion. The article's essential character is therefore imparted by the plastic sport drink bottle and that component's ability to store and efficiently provide liquids.

Heading 3926, HTSUSA, covers “Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914.” The EN to heading 3926 indicate that the heading covers articles, not elsewhere specified or included, of plastics. In Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 960399, issued February 26, 1998, this office classified a quart-sized plastic canteen fitted with an insulated textile cover and packaged for retail sale with an adjustable textile pistol belt. We noted that the article was designed to be worn by an individual primarily to hold and carry potable water and to be filled by the ultimate consumer as needed. The canteen was found to be the primary component of the kit and the complete article was classified in subheading 3926.90.9880. In HQ 962655, issued July 7, 2000, we classified in subheading 3926.90.9880, a composite article consisting of a plastic sports bottle imported with a fitted, textile carrier bag. It was found that the bottle component supplied the article's essential character, permitting the primary function of carrying and dispensing a beverage while the nylon textile bag served the secondary function of conveniently carrying the bottle. We likewise find that this composite article - "The Original 'Blue Ice'™ Sport Bottle" - is classified in subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA. (See also HQ 961517, issued November 6, 1998.)



The article identified as "The Original 'Blue Ice'™ Sport Bottle" is classified in subheading 3926.90.9880, HTSUSA, the provision for “Other articles of plastics...: Other: Other, Other.” The general column one duty rate is 5.3 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division