Medford Township Public Schools in Medford, NJ this month celebrates the 20-year anniversary of its transition to cleaner-burning biodiesel in its school bus fleet.  Medford is the nation’s longest continuous user of biodiesel in a student transportation fleet.

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 National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen.  “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 8thgrade when Medford made the switch to biodiesel.  “That smell disappeared once the buses started running on biodiesel.

“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.

“Utilizing 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.”

Medford’s pioneering spirit is an inspiration for school districts and others across the nation who have learned from their example. Numerous awards honor Medford’s achievements including the 2016 EPA Environmental Champion Award, the New Jersey Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award and NBB’s “Eye on Biodiesel” Inspiration Award.

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