The 180 tons of paper trash that federeal bureaucrats in Washington Toss in waste baskets every day is being used to heat and cool other bureaucrats who work across the Potomac River in Arlington.

In a two-week experimental project, the Washington trash is being compressed into pickle-sized pellets and burned along with coal in the gaint General Services Administration plant that heats and cools the Pentagon, Navy Annex and Henderson Hall Marine Barracks in Arlington.

"We presently have to pay to get rid of this trash," said GSA technical field manager W. H. Laing. He said the hundreds of tons of trash generated daily in Washington are usually trucked off and buried in Lorton or incinerated in Northeast Washington.

"This is a resource we just throw away because the paper is often low-grade and can't be recycled," Laing said.

The $87,000 test project is being cosponsored by GSA and the Department of Energy. Government officials say they are monitoring the program to see if oil and coal savings justify the cost of making the pellets. The test program could save an estimated $160,000 a year in fuel costs, Laing said.

"We just take whatever comes out of the trash baskets around town," Laing said. "(They) are probably old orders that nobody followed anyway."

The trash from federal buildings is loaded into mammoth dump trucks and cartered to a Northeast processing plant where it is shredded and nonpaper trash is discarded.

What remains is processed into the pellets and shipped to the GSA's Virginia heating and refrigeration plant located near the 14th Street bridge.

GSA officials say that although the pellets are a less efficient source of energy than coal or oil, they are also considerably cheaper. Officials say one ton of pellets costs $26.50 about half the price of a ton of coal and a quarter the price of an equivalent amount of industrial heating oil.

"This is certainly an untapped resource," said Harvey Alter of the National Center for Resource Recovery which developed the project. "There's a lot of refuse around."

Although Alter and federal officials said the results of the experiment would be studied for possible use by utilities and use in government and private buildings, they said that the pellets can only be used in certain types of boilers.

"Putting this type of fuel in boilders that don't meet specifications would be like trying to run your car on heating oil," Alter said.

GSA officials said that although the Virginia test project is the first in this area, similar federally funded experiments with pellet fuel are being conducted at a General Electric Plant in Erie, Pa., at the Hagerstown, Md., Men's Correctional Facility and in Baltimore. CAPTION: Picture, GSA's Charles Polinger holds coal in his left hand and fuel pellets compressed from waste paper in his right.