The City of Santa Monica has converted 80 city heavy-duty vehicles and other pieces of equipment to biodiesel — considered a cleaner, more environmentally preferable type of fuel.

City officials said that the switch to biodiesel fuel is part of the city effort to improve “an already cutting-edge, clean-air fleet operation.”

The move is also part of a larger program to promote alternative-fuel vehicles, which has transformed 70 percent of the city fleet to clean-air fuel technologies.

City officials say that biodiesel — made from organic fats and oils — is a renewable source of fuel that is less toxic than petroleum diesel, naturally biodegradable and free of aromatic hydrocarbons.

The use of biodiesel dramatically reduces hydrocarbon emissions, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulfur, all of which contribute to poor air quality and have a negative effect on the health of children, officials claim.

The environmental attributes of the new fuel are especially significant for the city beach maintenance crew, which relies on diesel fuel for its daily operations, and equipment used to clean streets and sidewalks, city officials said.

“This equipment is deployed seven days a week on our beaches and streets, so this change is a huge step forward in making our operations more sustainable,” said Wes Thompson, Santa Monica city solid waste supervisor.

The change to biodiesel is currently through a pilot program, but city officials expect the switch to become permanent.

“The leadership role Santa Monica has taken will demonstrate to other municipalities and the public that sustainable fuels are available now,” said Joe Gershen, president of the nonprofit group Green Depot.

Information, (310) 458-8514.

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