Let’s talk brake material. For the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the automotive industry and the states signed an agreement. All to reduce the use of copper and other materials in motor vehicle brake pads. The Copper-Free Brake Initiative also calls for cutting copper in brake pads. That’s to less than 5 percent by 2021. Finally and 0.5 percent by 2025.

Brake Material Cuts

This voluntary initiative also calls for cutting the amount of:

  1. mercury
  2. lead
  3. cadmium
  4. asbestiform fibers
  5. and chromium-6 salts in motor vehicle brake pads.

These steps will decrease runoff of these materials from roads into the nation’s streams, rivers and lakes. All where these materials can harm fish. In addition to amphibians and plants.

By the Numbers for brake material

brake material

California and Washington have already passed requirements. Moreover to reduce these materials in brake pads. Prior to their enactment, dust from vehicular braking released an estimated 1.3 million pounds of copper into California’s environment in 2010. Furthermore, about 250,000 pounds into Washington’s environment in 2011.

In addition, estimates for California show copper in urban runoff down as much as 61 percent. That’s all thanks to changes in brake pad composition.

This initiative includes:

Education and outreach to bring about the nationwide reduction in brake pads of copper and the other materials.

Testing friction materials and constituents for alternatives.

Marking and labeling friction material packaging and product.

Providing reporting registrars’ and agents’ contact information to manufacturers, suppliers and other industry entities.

Copper-Free Brakes

Working towards achieving the goals in the Copper-Free Brake Initiative within specified timeframes.


In addition to EPA and the Environmental Council of the States, eight industry groups signed the initiative:

  1. Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
  2. Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association; Brake Manufacturers Council
  3. Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association
  4. Auto Care Association
  5. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
  6. Association of Global Automakers, Inc
  7. and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association.

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