In 2018, China established a policy called National Sword. The regulation limits the amount and types of recyclables that the country will accept.

As a result, times have been harder on recycling companies, including those in Reno and Sparks. This has meant that many recycling businesses have been left with the difficult decision to charge their clients more money. 

This is the case for Zoe Miller at Grassroots Books. Miller says her most recent recycling bill is ten times more expensive than what she usually pays. Now she's worried about how this could affect her business in the long run.

“We used to pay them almost $100 a month and it’s going to $1,000 a month so it’s a pretty big expense for us, running a book store is not easy,” says Miller.

Nate Lance with Green Solutions Recycling says unfortunately this isn't happening to just Miller.

He says all across the country, recycling companies are unable to get rid of certain products because of National Sword.

"So you send an entire thing of say cardboard over to China, if it has more than one percent contamination it gets sent back to the United States, Says Lance.  “So it's shut down those markets, which created a glut in all the other markets and leaves us where we are now, a sea of cardboard."

As a result, much like the recycling company Miller uses, Green Solutions Recycling has also had to raise rates.

“Cardboard a couple years ago was $200 a ton, now we are at $25 a ton, says Lance. “ We have to charge our customers more to go collect it, sort it and get it out, in order to remain profitable.”

It's not just paper products like books or cardboard being affected. Lance says across the country more plastics and glass are likely ending up in landfills because of China's restrictions.

Lance is hopeful that we can solve the problem by building more recycling facilities in the U.S.

“Domestic recycling is where it's at, bring it back home, let's process material here so we can use it here,” says Lance.

But until things change, Grassroots Books will have to consider looking at other options to save itself some money.

“I've left a message and an email for a company that is a mill in Los Angeles to see if we can send full truckloads of books down there for recycling,” says Miller.