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Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies (A.E.R.T.) has found other ways to limit cost runups. It gets its plastic from recycled goods rather than virgin PVC, and over the years it has learned how to convert ever-lower grades of polyethylene into usable feedstock. (Trex also gets most of its plastic through recycling.) As for wood flour, generally the more finely ground it is, the more expensive it gets. A.E.R.T. uses relatively large flakes of wood. The result, however, is a rougher-looking board than its competitors.
But if you really want to scrimp, ultimately you need to examine your additives�Cthe chemicals that make trim whiter, deckboards stiffer, cores less (or more) foamy, and surfaces less likely to fade in the sun or crumble. Like spices, a little additive can cost a lot. Bill Ross, vice president of sales at Fiberon, says that while wood flour can cost 10 cents a pound and virgin PVC a dollar a pound, an additive can set you back hundreds of dollars per pound.
Anatole Klyosov, a biochemist and former WPC executive, says several lawsuits this past decade involving WPCs appeared to arise from failure to use enough additives. In one case, he says, a manufacturer didn't add enough color pigment, thus leading to fading. Another case stems from a lack of antioxidants.