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Industrial Shredders Are Duty-Free 'Grinding' and 'Crushing' Machines, Importer Argues

Industrial shredders imported by Vecoplan are classifiable as grinding and crushing tools under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule because the shredding operations break down material into small fragments and reduce the size of material by means of impacting the waste material, the importer argued in a March 15 motion (Vecoplan v. United States, CIT # 20-00126).

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CBP had originally liquidated the entries under HTS subheading 8479.89.94 as "Machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions, not specified or included elsewhere in this chapter; parts thereof: Other machines and mechanical appliances: Other: Electromechanical appliances with self-contained electric motor," dutiable at 2.5%. Vecoplan they should have been classified duty-free under subheading 8479.82.00 as "Mixing, kneading, crushing, grinding, screening, sifting, homogenizing, emulsifying or stirring machines." Vecoplan asked the court grant its November motion for summary judgment (see 2211150036), to deny the government's cross motion (see 2301260039).

Contrary to the government's position, the single-shaft rotary size-reduction machines imported by Vecoplan meet the broad definition of grinding operations, the company argued. The machines at issue use a rotating shaft with cutting inserts to "break or scoop material out of a larger mass" until it's reduced to a size corresponding to the chosen screen. "This is a machine that breaks, crushes, pounds, pulverizes, cuts, or otherwise grinds material," Vecoplan said.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of grinding "makes it clear that grinding need not reduce material to powder; it is sufficient that the material be reduced to small fragments," Vecoplan said. The company cited several instances of the machines outputting "small or relatively small particles," which it argues is evidence of grinding. "The sample of material that was formerly Kevlar helmets ... ground down to a relatively fine, fibrous mass" or "bowling balls have been broken, demolished, and divided into relatively small particles" are evidence of grinding capability, Vecoplan argued.

Vecoplan says that the machines also meet the definition of "crushing," saying that DOJ's definition of “to reduce to particles by pounding or grinding" means that the operation doesn't require static squeezing, only that "crushing is a means of size reduction by grinding." In Vecoplan's machines, size reduction occurs where the cutters “hit” and “impact” the waste material, the company said. "That pounding is, by the defendant’s proffered definition, 'crushing.'"