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By now I’m sure that you are all aware of our Give Water a Brake petition to remove toxic material from brake pads throughout North America. Unfortunately for us, legislation does not simply just appear out of thin air after collecting a bunch of signatures (although they are an integral part of the process).  Accordingly, let’s take a peak into how Washington State came about passing their law as well as their implementation process.

After years of negotiations between the industry and advocates for the lucrative yet fragile shellfish beds that litter the tidal flats around Puget Sound, the Washington State legislature passed the “Better Brakes Law” in 2010. Specifically, this outlines that, beginning in 2013, all manufacturers must release a list of all materials in their brake pads and shoes.  By the end of that same year those companies will be legally restricted from adding asbestos, mercury, cadmium, or lead to their products and distributors will only be permitted to sell existing inventory until 2023.  By January 1st, 2021 no brake pad can be manufactured with more than 5% copper by weight.

Washington’s Department of Ecology has been given the task of validating an alternative to copper in pads.  Eight years after alternatives have been proven effective, legal restrictions will increase to where no pad can be produced with more than .5% cooper by weight.

It’s amazing that all of this occurred in the Evergreen State, a temperate rainforest with no scarcity of water.  Imagine the benefits if restrictions on runoff were realized in State’s like Georgia where Atlanta has arguably spent the last decade experiencing water shortages with no end in sight.  Climatic shifts are robbing areas of our nation their most vital resource while we sit back and push (literally) ourselves, and our environment, further into a toxic wasteland (remember half of copper contamination in cities stems from brake pad dust).

In Washington this issue gained traction through an abundance of individual responsibility instead of a perceived scarcity of resources. Regardless of why it was instigated, Earthgarage remains ecstatic that it was.  We should all look at the Evergreen State’s “Better Brakes Law” as a template for others to follow.

What would you have done differently?


Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet