Law & Order

California, Washington Copper Brake Limits Set to Go Into Effect

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

Beginning January 1, 2021, the states of California and Washington will not permit the sale of automotive brakes containing more than 5% copper. The ban on excessive copper stems from a pair of 2010 laws designed to limit the amount of the chemical in waterways. By 2025, brakes must contain less that 0.5% copper.

Copper is used as a friction material in brake pads as it effectively dissipates heat and allows for smooth braking. However, each time a vehicle’s brakes are applied, copper dust is released which eventually makes its way into waterways where it is toxic to marine life.

In 2015, brake manufacturers, automakers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreeing to adopt California’s and Washington’s standards, and to phase out the use of copper brake pads.

Both states have published guidance and FAQ on each law’s implementation:

For more information, contact Christian Robinson at