UNM took a step toward reducing its carbon emissions this week by introducing the Veggie Bus, a shuttle powered entirely by waste vegetable oil.

The oil comes from the kitchens of La Posada, the SUB and the cafeteria of UNMH. The University would otherwise pay $300 a week to dispose of the oil.

The shuttle starts running along the Redondo route today.

Senior Crystal Wong designed the bus’s exterior decor, which depicts the Sandia Mountains and sunflowers.

Wong said the theme was community and sustainability. The sunflowers represent the vegetable oil used to power the shuttle, and the Sandia Mountains and sky represent Albuquerque and all of New Mexico, she said.

Parking and Transportation Services Director Clovis Acosta said the organization will test the economic viability of the alternative energy shuttles before converting more of the fleet.

Acosta said the shuttle is one of many efforts the University has undertaken to reduce its carbon footprint.

“It’s a matter of being a symbol of thinking green,” he said.

Cynthia Martin, PATS program planning manager, said the converted shuttle was old and would have been retired soon if it hadn’t been turned into the Veggie Bus.

The shuttle’s fuel comes from Albuquerque-based Southwest Bio Fuels. The owner, Nathan Gonzales, said his brand of B-100 vegetable fuel runs in all diesel engines. He said he will soon produce 2,000 gallons of the environmentally-friendly fuel daily.

After Southwest Bio Fuels receives the unrefined oil free from UNM, they sell it back as biodiesel for $2 a gallon.

Bruce Milne, director of sustainability studies, said that many students in the program, including those in introductory levels, worked on converting the shuttle.

“This is all part of our dreams coming true,” he said. “If students ever needed motivation to be in school, it’s to be part of this environmental solution, which starts locally.”