Mr. Rick Van Arnam
Barnes, Richardson & Colburn
475 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016

RE: The tariff classification of regenerated cellulose sponge sheets

Dear Mr. Van Arnam:

In your letter dated November 10, 2010, on behalf of Kalle USA, Inc., you requested a tariff classification ruling.

The samples included with your request are sponge sheets made of regenerated cellulose with some cotton fibers. The sponge sheets will be imported either on rolls 250 to 400 meters in length or in the form of sheets that are cut to size and packaged for retail sale. The cut sheets measure 11.8 inches by 10.1 inches and are rectangles with 90 degree corners. The edges will not be rounded and the sheets will not be further worked. The sponge cloths will be used for cleaning purposes in the building maintenance, sanitary services and food services industries.

The sponge cloth is manufactured from a dough-like mixture of 70 percent cellulose in the form of viscose, a dissolved liquid cellulose, and 30 percent scrap cotton. Salt is added to the dough to create pores in the finished product. The dough is extruded in a sheet, which is then subjected to a coagulation bath that regenerates the viscose back into cellulose. The product is washed to remove the salt, creating the pores in the finished sponge cloth that increase its absorptive qualities.

You suggest classification in subheading 5603.94.90, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), which provides for nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated, weighing more than 150 grams per square meter, of staple fibers, and you reference NY ruling 805093, which classified a sponge cloth composed of heat-set nonwoven staple man-made fibers in that subheading. In the alternative, you note that the product is derived from cellulose and you suggest classification in subheading 4823.90.86, HTSUS, as webs of cellulose fibers.

This office agrees that regenerated cellulose is a material that is derived from cellulose, but the cellulose in the instant sheets is not in the form of textile fibers, paper fibers or any type of filament, pulp, web or wadding. The cellulose was dissolved to form liquid viscose which was extruded to form a sheet rather than processed through spinnerets to form textile or other fibers. The sheet was subjected to a coagulation bath that regenerated the viscose to a cellulosic plastics material. Although the sheet contains some cotton fibers, they are present to increase the absorptive quality of the sheet and do not represent the essential character of the sheet. The salt created pores that resulted in a cellular construction for the plastics. This type of manufacturing method is described in the General Explanatory Notes to Chapter 39 in the section titled “Cellular plastics.” The Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System constitute the official interpretation of the HTSUS at the international level. The Notes describe the creation of cellular plastics by mixing plastics with water or solvent-soluble materials which are leached out of the plastics, leaving voids. This office agrees with your contention that the imported products have not been processed beyond the form of rectangular sheets.

You have not identified the country of origin of the merchandise. The rate of duty provided below is the rate for this merchandise when manufactured in a country with which the United States has Normal Trade Relations.

The applicable subheading for the sponge sheets, whether in the form of cut rectangular sheets or in material lengths on rolls, will be 3921.14.0000, HTSUS, which provides for other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics: cellular: of regenerated cellulose. The rate of duty will be 6.5 percent ad valorem.

Duty rates are provided for your convenience and are subject to change. The text of the most recent HTSUS and the accompanying duty rates are provided on World Wide Web at

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 Joan Mazzola at (646) 733-3023.


Robert B. Swierupski
National Commodity Specialist Division