New Jersey school district achieves milestone with the help of biodiesel

Medford Township Public Schools, a community public school district in Medford, New Jersey, has been celebrating twenty years of using biodiesel in its fleet of school buses.

Medford is the nation’s longest continuous user of biodiesel in a student transportation fleet, according to US trade body National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

The school district’s use of biodiesel has eliminated more than 123,376 pounds of smog-forming emissions, 2,408 pounds of diesel particulate matter and reduced its fleet operation costs by over $170,000.

“Medford’s 20-year commitment to powering its school bus fleet with biodiesel is benefiting a new generation of students by reducing harmful emissions and contributing to cleaner air,” said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. 

He added: “Some of the children who rode the bus back in 1997 are now parents themselves whose children will enjoy the same air quality benefits in Medford today.”

One of those parents is Jennifer Entwistle, a second grade teacher who also has children of her own who will attend school in Medford beginning next year.

“I remember walking out of school and being able to tell that the buses were there before I saw them, because of the smell,” said Entwistle who was in 8th grade when Medford made the switch to biodiesel.  “That smell disappeared once the buses started running on biodiesel. 

She added: “Medford was definitely ahead of its time 20 years ago and I feel thankful to have grown up and now be raising my children in a community that makes reducing our carbon footprint and protecting our children a priority.  For me, the initiative has come full circle.  I was one of the first to benefit from biodiesel in 1997 and now my students, and soon my own children, will experience the same air quality benefits.”

On November 17, 1997, Medford filled its first school bus -- a 1998 International bus – with B20.  When that bus retired in 2011, it had logged 190,000 miles without any major engine work and still had its original fuel injectors and pump.

“Utilising biodiesel fuel in our school bus fleet is the cornerstone of our district’s overall commitment to sustainability,” said Medford Schools Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi.  “It motivated us to evaluate our existing practices over the years resulting in our district becoming more cost efficient and environmentally responsible.  We are proud to be a lead district for this initiative, especially serving as a positive role model for our school community and the Township of Medford.”

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based AmeriGreen Energy has been supplying Medford’s biodiesel for nearly 15 years. 

Made from an increasingly diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, biodiesel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that can be used in existing diesel engines without modification, according to NBB.