Automotive brake pads contain harmful copper shavings that are released whenever a driver hits the brakes, which is harmful to the environment as the copper ends up washing into streams and rivers. Luckily, the movement to ban copper in brake pads is now gaining traction thanks to new legislation in California and Washington. According to the Ecology Department in Washington State, “With millions of drivers using their brakes each day, these small amounts significantly impact our waterways, including Puget Sound.” Washington State has also stated that the brake pads account for up to half of the copper entering the state’s water supply. In Washington any brake pads containing more than 5 percent copper will be banned by 2021. California has a similar ban that states that all brake pads must be composed of less then 0.5 percent copper by 2025.
Earthgarage.com, which is a new website that helps drivers learn how to make their cars greener, has launched a new petition to ban copper and other hazardous materials in automotive brake pads. The campaign named “Give Water a Break” highlights the fact that brake pads are made of very hazardous materials like asbestos, lead, antimony and copper. When these toxic materials are released into the air they eventually contaminate the water supply for animals and humans.
“The idea is to pressure the rest of the U.S. and our neighbors in Canada to step up and pass legislation that will begin phasing out copper and other hazardous materials in brake pads,” stated Bob Leonard, CEO of Green Automotive Alliance and founder of Earthgarage.com. “We believe this grassroots effort will eventually influence national legislation.”
New York and Rhode Island are the latest states to introduce new bills to limit the use of these materials in brake pads. There are more environmentally friendly brake pads out there. For example ceramic brake pads that may only have small amounts of copper have been growing in popularity.