WASHINGTONEight original equipment automotive and aftermarket industry groups have signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Council of the States to reduce the use of copper and other toxic substances in brake pads.
The voluntary Copper-Free Brake Initiative calls for reducing the copper content of brake pads to less than 5 percent by 2021 and no more than 0.5 percent by 2025, according to the EPA. It also calls for cutting the amount of mercury, lead, cadmium, asbestiform fibers and chromium-6 salts in brake pads.
These steps will decrease runoff of these materials from roads into the nation's streams, rivers and lakes, where these materials can harm fish, amphibians and plants, the agency said in a news release in late January.
The associations that signed the Copper-Free Brake Initiative memo-randum of understanding (MOU) are: the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA); the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association; Brake Manufacturers Council; Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association; Auto Care Association; Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; the Association of Global Automakers Inc.; and the Engine Manufacturers Association.
Steve Handschuh, president and CEO of MEMA, said the MOU provides consistent copper reduction guidelines and eliminates the potential for disparate state regulations. He noted the agreement was the result of a proactive, collaborative effort by regulatory agencies, states, the automotive aftermarket and the motor vehicle industry to reduce copper in U.S. waterways.
According to the EPA's Copper-Free Brake Initiative Internet page, California and Washington already have laws requiring reductions of these substances in brake pads sold within their borders. The agency estimates that 1.3 million pounds of toxic brake dust were released into California's environment in 2010, and 250,000 pounds into Washington's in 2011.
The initiative includes:
c Education and outreach to facilitate nationwide reduction of copper and other substances in brake pads;
c Testing brake friction materials and constituents for alternative substances;
c Marking and labeling brake friction materials for content;
c Providing reporting registrars' and agents' contact information to manufacturers, suppliers and other industry entities; and
c Working toward achieving the goals of the Copper-Free Brake Initiative within specified time frames.
California and Washington passed laws in 2010 banning certain concentrations of harmful materials used in making brake pads. Several automotive groups in those two states said at the time that they would take a leadership role in efforts to meet the pending deadlines for the limits that took effect in 2014 in California and 2015 in Washington.
Both require certification of content by a third-party laboratory testing brake pad content under Society of Automotive Engineers Test J2975.
Brake Parts Inc., the manufacturer of Raybestos brake components, said in 2013 it was complying with and disseminating the Brake Friction Materials Self-Certification Compliance Program.
The Brake Manufacturers Council, an affiliate of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association and MEMA, developed a self-certification program in response to the brake pad content laws passed in California and Washington State in 2010.
While the California and Washington statutes differ in detail, both laws banned the sale of brake pads containing more than trace concentrations of lead, asbestos, cadmium, mercury and chromium, on pain of $10,000 per violation.
Pads manufactured before the date of the ban still can be sold in California until Dec. 31, 2023, and until 2025 in Washington. However, both laws absolutely forbid the sale of pads containing more than 5 percent copper from 2021 on.
The California law forbids brake pads containing more than 0.5 percent copper after Jan. 1, 2025. That same level will become law in Washington until Jan. 1, 2032, unless an advisory committee determines that alternative brake friction materials are available.
Washington allows inventory clearing of pre-2021 pads until 2031. The state also exempts all pads manufactured before 2021 as part of an original equipment contract.
Washington's law contains a provision for self-certification of compliance, in which brake pad manufacturers and importers submit samples of their products to a certified laboratory, either by themselves or through an industry-sponsored registrar.
As part of the Brake Manufacturers Council, the Brake Pad Partnership and the Better Brakes Working Group, a Brake Parts Inc. spokesman said the firm has been actively engaged in implementing a brake rule for more than a decade.