A central tenet of pollution prevention holds that it is
more effective to prevent or reduce waste or pollution at
the source, than to handle or treat these problems after
they are generated. While this concept has met with general
acceptance in the business community, many small- to
medium-sized companies unfortunately have neither the
in-house expertise to put this policy into action, nor can
they easily afford to pay consultants or engineering firms
to provide the needed help.
In a 1989 meeting of the Southeast Pollution Prevention
Roundtable, it was proposed that this problem might be
cost-effectively addressed by using the experience and
knowledge of retired scientists and engineers.
In September 1989, a group of 51 retired scientists and
engineers, each with 30 to 40 years of industrial
experience, was recruited in Alabama, and in the following
year began to conduct on-site waste reduction and pollution
prevention assessments for interested businesses and
industries. Initially, this assessment effort was conducted
as a ‘public-private partnership’ jointly co-sponsored by
the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) the Alabama Department
of Environmental Management (ADEM), Alabama Power Company,
Monsanto Corporation, and the Business Council of Alabama.
The retirees' work was so successful that in 1992, a study
conducted by Auburn University recommended that the program
be formalized and expanded in order to secure a more
sustainable and permanent funding base. In 1993, the program
transitioned into Foundation status as a 501(c)(3)
WRATT's initial efforts focused closely on pollution
prevention and waste reduction in business and industry.
Since the early days however, energy conservation, and work
with governmental and other institutional entities have
become equally important components in the company's suite
The concept of using retired engineers and scientists to
conduct confidential, voluntary, and non-regulatory on-site
assessments has been very successful and has now become
known as the ‘WRATT Model’.